“In our land, we Inuit feel more free.” – Dominique Tungilik
The Inuit peoples believe that they feel most free on their own land. They consider land in terms of what it can offer, and take from it all that is necessary to live, work, survive and thrive. The vivid imagery extracted from the land is freely expressed in the exhibition Arctic Wind IV: an expression of freedom - a diverse collection of over 80 works in serpentine stone, marble, organic materials and original drawings opening November 23, 2013.
When viewing Inuit art, it is apparent that place is considered an inspiration as well as instrumental in the artists’ vision through cultural expression. The land, animals and mystical spirits, and even the materials used from the land, all speak to the artists, which are then communicated through their artistic endeavors.
A sense of place, of belonging to and relying upon it, is one of the central influential themes amongst the Inuit peoples and their culture. Their coexistence in the same place as animals and the reverence for these creatures is a testament to how life should be lived. They not only want to observe animals in their natural habitat, but also have an understanding of them. They relied heavily upon wildlife to sustain their existence which, in turn, was interpreted through representational art.
From this great land came their sustenance, which gave the Inuit peoples the ability to survive the harshness of surrounding elements. From these unpredictable elements came movement, colour and materials which impacted their choices in creating art works.
The beauty and treacherous nature of land can foster deep emotions, and these feelings of elation or despair can be seen throughout the Inuit art. The lonely expanse of the land and brutality of living in such a cold place with little light is expressed through themes of shamanism and mysticism by utilizing darkly bold shapes and imagery.
As migratory peoples, they moved from place to place, and then were displaced from their homes to live an existence in a stationary world which posed new challenges. The range of emotions one experiences after settling into one central place is evident in some themes of their work. Being isolated from other regions and yet self-reliant upon each other within a community can influence the artists’ interpretation of family, people, and how they interact with one another.
Through their collective vision and individual styles, the artists’ hands shape the materials to give expression to the freedom they feel living upon their own land. The legacy Inuit peoples are leaving to the land, their children and future generations, is one of resilience, reverence and hope.
Coastal Peoples extends our gratitude to this extraordinary group of gifted Inuit artists who continue to deepen our appreciation of and respect for their thriving culture.