Transformative imagery in art is as old as the creative impulse itself. For the Inuit, that impulse manifested itself in a rich tapestry of oral tradition. In an environment where the sun would disappear for months at a time, long nights and dark days were and are filled with story telling. These stories depict adventures of mythic heroes such as Kiviok, legends of fearsome giants that inhabited the landscape prior to the Inuit, multidimensional creatures from dreams with demeanors and dispositions that make the blood run cold. There is also great humour, making light of situations that are perilous in the extreme. These stories provide context for the Inuit as to their place in the scheme of things and how to deal with what life sends their way. Stoic resignation with the harshness of their environment contrasted with joyful celeration in the bounty that they can find within that stark wilderness that is their home.
Such are the origins of the sculpture that we present in this exhibition Transforming Vision. A great many of these pieces depict the moment of a literal transformation, figures that are still part human.The shaman, changing before our eyes, to go on a quest to make things right for a successful hunt, a magnificent example being Toonoo Sharky's bird spirit figure. A delicate and sensitive image of an Inuit story is David Ruben's 'To Catch A Star'. The haunting image of Kooyoo Peter's marble mask evokes the potent power of the shaman as intermediary in addition to his or her role as chief story teller. In another sense of transforming, art has the power to transform the viewer, by responding to the art, be it story or, in the case of this exhibition, sculpture. The viewer is transformed by being drawn into the spirit of the sculpture, sharing with the artists some elements of, to quote a title from the late Joseph Campbell, 'The Power of Myth'.
The Inuit Gallery is very pleased to present this collection of contemporary
sculpture and we invite you to share in its transformative power.