Akeeaktashuk

Akeeaktashuk was a sculptor from Inukjuak, Nunavik. Akeeaktashuk lived on the land and started carving as a youth and was considered one the best carvers from the region during his lifetime [1]. However, his works were not exhibited until the early 1950s when southern audiences were introduced to his work through the increasing presence of southerners such as John Houston in the North [2]. Akeeaktashuk's sculpture of an Inuk hunter was chosen as the central sculpture in an exhibition organized by Houston but was sold before it could travel to New York [3]. 

Most of Akeeaktashuk's works focused on human and animal forms and were made in a realistic style, with small details such as beads for eyes. His handling of stone remained delicate, with fluid forms and gentle curves. In Standing Woman with Water Pail and Scoop (1953), the female form holds the history of the stone in the weight of the central body, with delicate rendering of boots and hands and the hood caught in an ever-present wind. A small pail is attached to the body of the sculpture by rope and is made of a contrasting stone to depict a narrative. A scoop is inserted in the other hand. Akeeaktashuk's attention to detail uses the striations in the stone, which are a bright orange colour, as part of the decoration that he etched into the figure upon the amauti, traditional clothing. The expressive face shows the emotional immediacy of the moment as the wind blows and the woman burrows further into the hood, scrunching her face in displeasure. 

During his lifetime, Akeeaktashuk's work was exhibited across Canada, the United States and internationally and was included in major public collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His sculpture was shown in Eskimo Carvings: Coronation Exhibition in 1953, a group exhibition at Gimpel Fils Gallery in London, United Kingdom [4]. He passed away in 1954, but his work continues to be included in major group exhibitions.



Citations/Footnotes

1. Inuit Art Foundation, Virtual Museum, Accessed January 17, 2018, http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/histoires_de_chez_nous-community_memories/pm_v2.php?id=story_line&lg=English&fl=0&ex=00000440&sl=4253&pos=1
2. Darlene Wight, Early Masters, (Winnipeg, MB: 2006): 29.
3. IAF, ibid.
4. IAF, ibid.