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Inuit Artists come to Grand Marais in March!

News-01/21/2011-11:00 AM

Press Release from Sivertson Art Gallery

11th Annual Inuit Premiere

Featuring David Ruben Piqtoukun and Kavavow Mannomee

Sivertson Gallery opens their 11th Annual Inuit Premiere in Grand Marais on Saturday, March 19th with two world renowned Inuit artists, David Ruben Piqtoukun and Kavavow Mannomee. “With the polar bear identified as the poster child of global warming there is a growing consciousness about the Arctic that has brought the beauty of it’s resources, creatures, arts and culture to the forefront,” says gallery owner, Jan Sivertson. “Both of these artists have experienced first hand the dramatic social, cultural, and environmental changes that have taken place in the Arctic in the last half century.” The opening weekend events at Sivertson Gallery are free and open to the public and the exhibit continues through the end of April. In addition, workshops taught by these master artists will be offered through the Grand Marais Art Colony and North House Folk School.

To escape the harsh realities of life on the arctic tundra, at the urging of the Canadian government Inuit people began leaving their traditional nomadic lifestyles to live in communities in the 1950’s. With few other economic opportunities, creating artwork was encouraged as one way for the Inuit to earn an income. Situated well above the tree line in the high arctic, Inuit artists had no access to traditional materials such as wood for sculpting or block printing. Forced to use local materials, soapstone was embraced by the innovative spirit of Canada’s indigenous people. In addition to carving sculptures, flat slabs of soapstone are used to create relief style block prints.

Master soapstone Sculptor David Ruben Piqtoukun (born in Paulatuk, NWT) lived the traditional migratory life with his family along the Mackenzie River Delta. At the age of 5 he was sent away to one of the infamous residential schools where he received “an education in forgetting” for the next 12 years. “I lost my language and Native Eskimo ways. Living in the south made my identity difficult to comprehend. I was lost between two worlds.” With original instruction from his brother, noted sculptor Abraham Apalark Anghik Ruben, he began to carve soapstone at the age of 22. “I began to explore my native roots, collecting stories from my travels home in Canada’s Western Arctic. I was fascinated by my own culture.” Nearly four decades later, Ruben’s work has been featured in many group and solo exhibitions across North America and Europe. In 1988 he was named to the sculptors Society of Canada. His work can be found in many public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, parks and public spaces around Canada, as well as at Canadian embassies around the world.

“David Ruben’s work balances his concern for the loss of his culture and language with a profound optimism, rooted in the shamanic beliefs of his ancestors.” – Dr. George F. MacDonald, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation.

An accomplished and precise printmaker, Kavavow Mannomee is one of the very few Inuit artists who is trained as a master printmaker at Kinngait Studios, the co-operative print shop in Cape Dorset. Since 1959 the co-op has produced an Annual Print Collection which is eagerly anticipated by collectors from around the world. Each year artists from the community submit drawings for consideration for the annual release. Images that will be made into prints are chosen by consensus and small editions are printed. Etching, lithography, and stencil methods are used in addition to the stone cut technique, which is unique to the Inuit artists of Cape Dorset. As a master printmaker, Mannomee is one of the rare Inuit artists who not only contributes imagery, but also cuts the images into the stone block and prints editions. His thematic concerns include depictions of Inuit legends and mythology, Arctic wildlife and an interest in some of the more contemporary aspects of Inuit life. Mannomee’s imagery nicely combines his naturalist’s eye with his graphic sensibilities. His work has been exhibited since 1988, in Canada, the United States, France, Belgium, and Germany.

For more info about Kavavaow's Mannomee's Inuit Stonecut Print class click here
and for Inuit Stencil Prints click here.

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