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Peter Emikotailak, Shaman Transformation, date unknown (after 1990). Stone. Collection of Sylvia Shadick-Taylor. Photo: Bill Tracy
Goota Ashoona, Tornaq—Spirit Creature, 2000. Whalebone, home tanned sealskin, musk ox hair, bone, stone. Collection of Bill and Michelle Tracy. Photo: Bill Tracy
Pitaloosie Saila, Bird Spirit at Sea, 1984. Stonecut print on paper. Private Collection. Photo: Bill Tracy
Angakkuq: Between Two Worlds; Spiritual and Mythological Figures in Inuit and Inuvialuit Art features five decades of Inuit artworks, produced by over 50 artists from 22 northern communities across the Canadian Arctic. Surveying works from 1960 to 2009, the exhibition highlights the use of traditional Inuit imagery in a variety of media including stone and antler carving, whalebone sculpture, prints and drawings, as well as select ceramic and textile works.
Consisting of works produced in the period following the federal government’s initiatives to introduce carving (late 1940s) and printmaking (1950s) as new industries in the North, Angakkuq: Between Two Worlds explores the persistence of mythological and spiritual figures in Inuit imagery. Whether as a reaction to market demand, or as a means of retaining connections to waning systems of belief, images of angakkuq—the shaman and mediator between physical and spirit worlds—and its spirit figures prevail. Sea women, drum dancers and scenes of shaman transformations provide insight into the way northern stories are shared and circulated.
The exhibition is organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta and guest curated by Bill and Michelle Tracy, members of Edmonton’s Inuit Art Enthusiasts, a group of collectors who have generously loaned the works in this exhibition.