Abraham Etungat

Abraham Etungat was born in Amadjuak, NU, in 1911 and spent his earlier years on the land before moving to Kinngait (Cape Dorset) in the 1950s. Because of deteriorating health he had to stop hunting, and it was at this point that he began to focus on carving. He soon became a prolific sculptor [1]. Etungat’s sculptures are imaginative and detailed, often including groups of animals and people. He is best known for his representations of birds with raised wings [2]. Welcoming the Bird of Spring (1986) is a carving that depicts such a bird standing beside a human figure. Both man and bird stand on a piece of stone that demarcates the land and indicates that both figures are on the same plane. The bird faces outward, and the human, who is represented at the same height, faces the bird, with a gloved hand raised towards the wing. This instance of connection depicts the reciprocal relationship between the two, not only in composition but also through traditions. The bird's feathers are etched into the stone and its round body is glossed to a high polish, similar to treatment of the human figure, showing the deft hand of Etungat, who carved the figures from a single piece of stone. 

Etungat’s experience and knowledge as a carver were later shared with both his daughter, Iqaluk Qatsiya, and his grandson Tutiya Qatsiya [3]. Between 1980 and 1981, Bird of Spring was reproduced and cast in seven-foot bronze statues, with one being constructed of fibreglass [4]. The sculptures became public art displays in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Halifax. Etungat’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions throughout North America and has been collected throughout Canada and internationally. In 2005 Etungat was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts [5].

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Accomplishments

1980/1981: Bird of Spring was reproduced as large-scale sculptures and put on display in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Halifax.

1981: Etungat was commissioned by Prince Charles' personal secretary to create a sculpture as a wedding gift.



Citations/Footnotes

1. Feheley Fine Arts, “Abraham Etungat,” 1.
2. Ibid.
3. “Abraham Etungat,” Spirit Wrestler Gallery, 2016, http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php?artists_id=140.
4. Beltline Urban Society, "Bird of Spring", Accessed December 20, 2017, https://beltline.ca/bird-of-spring.
5. "History of the WEBC" Dorset Fine Arts, Accessed January 17, 2018, http://www.dorsetfinearts.com/history-of-wbec/.