For thousands of years, Inuit women practiced the traditional art of tattooing. Created with bone needles and caribou sinew soaked in seal oil or soot, these tattoos were an important tradition for many women, symbols stitched in their skin that connected them to their families and communities.
But with the rise of missionaries and residential schools in the North, the tradition of tattooing was almost lost. In 2005, when Angela Hovak Johnston heard that the last Inuk woman tattooed in the traditional way had died, she set out to tattoo herself and learn how to tattoo others. What was at first a personal quest became a project to bring the art of traditional tattooing back to Inuit women across Nunavut, starting in the community of Kugluktuk.
Collected in this beautiful book are moving photos and stories from more than two dozen women who participated in Johnston’s project. Together, these women are reawakening their ancestors’ lines and sharing this knowledge with future generations.
Published in 2017
In this exhaustive story collection, the rich tradition of Inuit storytelling becomes accessible to the rest of Canada for the first time. Unipkaaqtut is the Inuit word meaning “to tell stories.”
This definitive collection of Inuit legends is thoughtfully introduced and carefully annotated to provide the historical and cultural context in which to understand this rich oral tradition.
Read about the origin of thunder and lightning, the tale of the man who married a fox and many animal fables from the North. Fascinating and educational, this little-known part of Canada’s heritage will captivate readers of all ages. As a work of historical and cultural preservation, this text will be invaluable to those studying Inuit.
Published in 2011
Nanuq: Life with Polar Bears features gorgeous wildlife photography of polar bears alongside first-hand accounts of experiences of living alongside the great sea bear.
From close encounters with angry bears to the beauty of watching a polar bear climb an iceberg with its claws and traditional mythology surrounding life with polar bears, this book gives readers outside the Arctic a first-hand look at what life with polar bears is really like.
Photographs by Paul Souders
Sanikiluaq, a small Inuit community in the Belcher Islands region of the Far North, has a long history of artistic output. But as the demand for stone carvings grew, grass basket sewing―once a traditional skill for Inuit women―faded from the community consciousness. That was until a group of women, including educator and artist Margaret Lawrence, came together to renew the lost art of basket sewing.
In Our Hands Remember: Recovering Sanikiluaq Basket Sewing, Lawrence guides readers through creating their own grass baskets in the unique style of the Sanikiluaq region with step-by-step instructions and photographs. From tips on preparing the grass and forming even coils to the different types of embellishments, this book is accessible to all skill levels.
Germaine Arnaktauyok is one of the Canadian North’s most prolific and recognizable artists. In this book, she tells the story of her life in her own words: her “very traditional Inuk life” growing up in Nunavut at a camp near Igloolik, and her experiences later in a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet; her education as an artist in Winnipeg and Ottawa; and her return to the North, where she continues to create drawings, etchings, and illustrations that have been featured in museums and galleries worldwide.
She also provides commentary on several of her works, offering a seldom seen perspective on her inspiration and process. Featuring over one hundred full-colour reproductions of Germaine Arnaktauyok’s fascinating pieces from throughout her career, this beautiful book provides an in-depth look at one of the world’s most important artists.
A gorgeous retrospective on the transformation of Inuit art in the 20th century, mirroring the vast and poignant cultural changes in the North.
In response to a rapidly changing Arctic environment, Inuit have had to cope with the transition from a traditional lifestyle to the disturbing realities of globalization and climate change. Inuit art in the latter half of the 20th century reflects the reciprocal stimulus of contact with Euro-Canadians and embodies the evolution of a modern Inuit aesthetic that springs from an ancient cultural context, creating an exciting new hybridized art form.
Inuit Modern: Art from the Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection situates modern Inuit art within a larger framework that reinterprets the Canadian Arctic. Essays by leading Canadian scholars in the field including Ingo Hessel, Robert McGhee, Christine Laloude, Heather Igloliorte, Dorothy Eber and Bernadette Driscoll Engelstad examine the social, political and cultural transformation through the dynamic lens of colonial influence and agency. Inuit Modern also features interviews with David Ruben Piqtoukun and Zacharias Kunuk.
Published in 2011
In one short decade, Dan and Martha Albrecht have put together one of the finest private collections of Inuit art ever assembled– nearly 4,000 pieces, most of which they generously donated to the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. In Arctic Spirit, writer and sculptor Ingo Hessel, the Albrechts’ main advisor, presents the best of these works, 190 sculptures, prints, drawings, and textiles, from prehistoric carvings to contemporary mixed media, and including works from Siberia, Greenland, Alaska, and the Inuit heartland of northern Canada.
“Inuit art is free of Western artistic rules and conventions,” explain the Albrechts. “It comes from the heart and tells its stories in clear, unpretentious, uncluttered tones. It is truly of ‘the people’, their wisdom, their experience– and we have become believers.”
Arctic Spirit is arranged according to major themes — the land, animals, everyday life, the supernatural — gathering together great works in different styles and materials. Short essays on Inuit culture, contemporary art, and the major artistic ‘schools’ of Inuit art complement the 200 colour colour photos. And close to half of the extensive text is in the words of the artists, more than thirty of whom have provided lengthy commentaries and autobiographical details especically for this publication.
Published in 2006