Amidst the splendor of Nunavut, Ohito Ashoona was born on December 11, 1952. He is the son of artists Mayureak and Qaqaq Ashoona.
He began carving at the early age of 12, and apprenticed with his father and his uncle, Kiawak Ashoona. His grandmother, Piseolak Ashoona, was a gifted artist in her own right.
As one of the few Inuit artist who consistently carved works relative to nature, there is always a story to be told with each piece. Ohito is deeply connected to his surroundings having spent his formative years living in an outpost camp. There, he experienced the traditional Inuit lifestyle in every sense – very different than living in a settlement or community. He subsisted entirely off the land through fishing and hunting walrus, whales, caribou and seals. Eventually, he became an outstanding hunter and fully certified Outfitting Guide.
The respect and love he shares for his culture, environment and the animals is apparent throughout his work. His portrayals are upbeat and creative despite the harsh existence in the Arctic. This speaks volumes about his gentle nature and warm personality.
Ohito’s work has been described as powerful, dynamic and energetic and yet, there is great tenderness in his representations of mother bear and her cubs, which evoke warmth and caring brought forth by the artist himself.
Now, at age 61 (2013), this extraordinary man has become an internationally-acclaimed Inuit artist. His sculpture, ‘Shaman Drawing Power from the Polar Bear’ was illustrated on the invitation to a world-class Inuit art exhibition at Chicago’s Greater Lafayette Museum of Art (2000).
In 2002, he won the Canadian National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in the Visual Arts category. This very prestigious award is open to all Inuit and First Nations peoples in Canada.
In addition, he has created sculptures to honour winners at both the Vancouver and Toronto Molson Indy. Among personal collectors are Yoko Ono, NHL players, and more.