(1948 – 2015)
One of the most skillful and innovative artists working today, Jackoposie Oopakak is as much a storyteller as he is a carver. Born in 1948 in an outpost camp located outside of Cumberland Sound to the well-known carver Etungat, Jackaposie’s early years were spent living a traditional life off of the land. Adopted at a young age by Oopakaah, another ivory miniature carver, Jackoposie moved to Iqaluit where he continues to live and work today. In the mid-seventies, with the encouragement of Thomas and Helen Webster of Arts Inuvik and the government of the Northwest Territories, Jackoposie took up miniature carving in ivory and silver. Even in these early years, Jackoposie’s carvings were notable for their delicacy and detailed beauty. In the late eighties and early nineties, Jackoposie began working regularly with stone, which resulted in larger sculptures articulated with the same finesse as his miniatures.
Today Jackoposie continues to carve, often working for eight hours a day in his studio. Each finished sculpture marks not just Jackoposie’s physical endurance but also his mental stamina and his enduring commitment to his art. Using both manual tools and power tools, Jackoposie’s dedication to his craft is best represented by the intricacy and delicate handling of his work in antler, often resting on large stone bases. His mature work tends towards the dramatic and spiritual. His intimate knowledge of traditional Inuit life, traditions, and spirituality is interwoven in the subjects he carves and the stories they tell. Jackoposie’s sculptures transcend their material forms and hearken to a long lost past, bringing forth ancestral voices and reviving cultural narratives marked by the close connection between the people and the land. On a personal level, Jackoposie’s experiences often appear in subtle ways, marking traumatic moments in his life and demonstrating the strength derived from his art.