CORE INUIT is an exhibition exploring pivotal sculpture by definitive Inuit artists. These works reflect the concepts and celebrate the artists that have been central to the development of contemporary Inuit art.
Many of the sculptures in the exhibition are rare finds; some owing to their prestigious creators, some for their unique exploration of traditional Inuit subject matter and some simply for their exquisite form and elegance.
It is a great privilege to exhibit exemplary sculpture created by some of the most revered Inuit artists, many of whom have now passed on. Moreover, we are delighted to showcase works by some of the most influential first generation artists who are still carving today. Each piece they create is a testament to their creative vitality.
CORE INUIT is anchored by one particularly unique and rare grouping comprised of sixty-two miniature carvings, nine of which are illustrated in this catalogue. The carvings were crafted by several accomplished artists from Kugluktuk, the community formerly known as Coppermine, in 1955-56. Although no single sculpture is over five inches in height, the works are monumental in concept and creation. This grouping is truly remarkable for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most interesting of these reasons is that the assorted pieces all join in reflecting the unique artistic climate in Kugluktuk in 1955. This grouping's original collector was an artist himself, and as such his eye was immediately captured by the grace and grandeur in each tiny sculpture.
The remaining works displayed in hail predominantly from a variety of private collections and were accumulated over a number of years. Each of the private collectors enjoyed a unique and exceptional connection not only to their personal collections, but also to Inuit art in general. It is these collectors and others like them that have fostered the development and continuation of the Inuit art market as we know it today.
Without exception, the collectors spoke with great passion about how each piece had been procured. What became one of the most interesting aspects of acquiring the sculptures was hearing the collectors fascinating personal stories of the Arctic and their relationships with the artists. These narratives provided us with valuable insight into the spirit and the history of the pieces in this exhibition and we have featured some of these stories throughout the catalogue.
Today, it is with a continued sense of privilege and honour that we are a part of helping pass on these important sculptures to new homes with equally thoughtful and passionate collectors. With the passing of these works from hand to hand, a new layer of history is added. How will your vision add to this history? Years from now, just think of the stories we will tell...
Director and Curator