Pootoogook Jaw

Pootoogook Jaw is a carver based out of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. Jaw began carving at a young age by learning the skill from his father [1]. He has since become known for his detailed renditions of Arctic wildlife, hunters, drum dancers and scenes of traditional Inuit life.

Jaw carves in a range of materials of varying hardness including serpentinite, soapstone and marble. He often carves wildlife in white marble accented with eyes and claws in black marble creating simplified, flowing forms. His piece Bird (2005) resembles a ptarmigan and the eyes and beak are incised with minimal detail. The viewer’s attention is instead drawn to the dynamic stance of the body with feet splayed the legs bent and the wings split in opposite directions. The bird appears to be dancing and seems to reference Jaw’s other notable artistic subjects, drum dancers. Most often carved in serpentinite Jaw creates highly polished sculptures of drummers transforming and becoming enrapt in their music, as well as hunters readying weapons and preparing to strike. Jaw creates a sense of movement in his figures through outstretched limbs combined with flying hairpieces and brandished accessories. In one of his more elaborate works entitled Hunter (2014) Jaw produces a detailed rendition of a man returning from caribou hunting. The hunter’s face is surrounded by the tufted fur of his parka, framing the intricately carved face including tiny teeth emerging between the hunter’s lips. In one hand the hunter carries his bow and balances a bag of equipment on one shoulder and a sac on his back. By his side walks a dog, helping to carry some of the load. The complexity of the composition and incorporation of multiple elements without becoming overcrowded is a testament to Jaw’s proficiency.

Jaw has been active in mentoring younger generations of carvers. In 1998 he organized a carving program through the Nunavut Training Company to help teach less experienced artists new skills. Jaw was motivated to help new carvers develop their talents beyond the production of expedient carvings, which he perceives as linked with habits of substance abuse, and give artists greater confidence and autonomy. The key lesson that Jaw aspires to impart is patience, and encourages new carvers to take the time to develop their skill. He is supportive of actions that will lead to greater interdependence and self-determination among Inuit artists [1].

Jaw currently lives and works out of Kinngait. He has recently begun to explore themes of contemporary Inuit life in his work, such as the piece Guitar Player (2015). His work is held in the collections of the Musee d’art Inuit Brousseau, Quebec City, QC and the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, BC. He has been included in several exhibitions in Canada and internationally, and has been featured in the Inuit Art Quarterly.



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Accomplishments

1998: Developed a program through the Nunavut Training company to teach 10 Iqaluit carvers new carving skills.


Citations/Footnotes

[1] Annette Bourgeois, “Master carver teaches pride, quality and patience,” Nunatiaq News, July 16, 1998, http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/archives/nunavut980731/nvt80717_01.html.
[2] Ovilo Goo-Doyle, “Time will make you a Carver: An Interview with Pootoogoo Jaw of Cape Dorset,” Inuit Art Quarterly Vol. 8., No. 2: 5.