Toonoo Sharky

Toonoo Sharky is a sculptor from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. He began carving when he was a young man and credits his grandfather, Kopapik Ragee, and stepfather, Shorty Killiktee, as major influences on his work [1]. Through carving, Sharky remains connected to his elders. In particular, he feels his grandfather’s presence is with him when he carves fish and human heads [2].

Sharky’s artistic practice focuses on the abstract representation of animals, as well as spiritual themes and transformations. Human, birds and sea creatures are the dominant forms in Sharky’s transformation sculptures [3]. Sharky has stated a preference for carving in serpentinite and marble, and occasionally bone [4]. Out of each material, he creates forms that are substantial and heavy but that also incorporate fine lines and details such as feathers and strands of hair. Frequently his figures are depicted with large, inset eyes carved out of stone or antler and accentuated with black pupils, drawing attention to the face. Each element of Sharky’s sculptures comes together to create dynamic works that appear to capture each figure in action.

Sharky’s work gained popularity in the 1990s after two solo exhibitions: one at the Inuit Galerie in Mannheim, Germany, in 1992, and another at La Guilde (formerly the Canadian Guild of Crafts), in Montreal, QC, in 1998 [5]. The National Gallery of Canada acquired Sharky’s sculpture The Legend of the Blind Boy (1998) as a result of the exhibition at La Guilde [6]. He was elected as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2003. Sharky’s work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, BC.

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Accomplishments

1994: Sharky received first place in the International Festival of Craft Arts in Florida.

1991: Sharky attended the Qatuujiqatgit Sanaguatit-Contemporary Carving and Sculpting Session at the Ottawa School of Art. 



Citations/Footnotes

1. “Toonoo Sharky RCA,” Spirit Wrestler Gallery, accessed January 31, 2018, http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php?artists_id=119.
2. “Acquisitions Highlights: Toonoo Sharky,” National Gallery of Canada, accessed January 31, 2018, http://cybermuse.gallery.ca/cybermuse/enthusiast/acquisitions/1999-2000/sharky_text_e.jsp.
3. “Toonoo Sharky,” Dorset Fine Arts, accessed January 31, 2018, http://www.dorsetfinearts.com/toonoo-sharky/.
4. Ibid.
5. “Acquisitions Highlights,” National Gallery of Canada, 2018.
6. Jessica Tomic-Bagshaw, “Contemporary Artist: Toonoo Sharky,” Inuit Art Quarterly 16, no. 3 (Fall 2001): 6.