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Pudlalik Shaa was born and raised in Cape Dorset. A self-taught carver, he started carving at twelve years old, learning mostly by watching his father Axangayuk Shaa, a renowned sculptor, “and other carvers who used to use an axe [when they carved].” Pudlalik’s parents, Axangayuk and Kilabuk Shaa, are Cape Dorset artists. Pudlalik’s brother Alariaqis also a carver, as was his brother Qavavau, who died in 1991.
After attending Arctic College in Lake Harbor, Pudlalik received a diploma for a carving course. Pudlalik remembers forming a carving group with other peers in his community, carving as a group and sharing tools. Also included in the group, were Pitseolak Oshutsiaq, Padlaya Qiatsuk and Kooyoo Pudlat. In 1989, he traveled south to Toronto with fellow Cape Dorset sculptor Ohito Ashoona for an exhibition opening. Afterwards, when asked what he thought of the south, he summated, “It was a big and polluted.”
Now the father of four children, Pudlalik carves at least every other day. Primarily, he works with stone and his sculptures average about fourteen inches high. His favorite subjects to carve are human figures such as drum dancers. Although he finds it hard to decide what to make before he begins to carve, Pudlalik admits, “Sometimes I know what I want to make immediately.”
Pudalik is especially conscious of form with his transformation pieces, which are composites of different animals combined with a human face or figure. Many of his birds and transformation figures are finely balanced on one leg.
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