Povungnituk: Inuit Art

Josie Paperk, Abraham Niaquq, Leah Qumalik, Levi Qumaluk, Isah Papialu, Josie Papialuk, Paulosie Sivuak, Syollie Amituk, Lukassie Tukalak, Akenesie Novalings, and Kanayook Tukalak are among the most well known members of the Povungnituk Cooperative, a group of Inuit artists dedicated to "independence through common effort." Whether working in the medium of stone or print, each artist portrays the strength, spontaneity and vigor of Eskimo art.

The sculptures and prints included in this exhibit chronicle the history/legends of a people. Because of their geographic remoteness, no less than the barrier of language, that separates the Povungnituk artists from most audiences, they serve as cultural ambassadors. Their work, unaffected by the graphic conventions of the southern art market, conveys an original vision teeming with indigenous images and archetypes.

Each of the selections in "Povungnituk" gives intimate insights into distinctive Inuit experiences, both past and present and constitutes, as Joseph Murphy has suggested, "a means [of] preserving a culture. And therein lies its soul." Hallmarked by crisp images of native animals and people set against stark background, many of the selections demonstrate the survival rituals that have allowed not only the Eskimo people, but also the birds, deer and otters to survive the elements. In the case of man's survival, the importance of the kayak becomes readily apparent.

Insofar as their modes of expression are pure and experimental, the Povungnituk artists offer a refreshing alternative to the self-conscious and constrained works produced by many of their contemporaries. These artists exude both a pride and sensitivity toward the traditions that have nurtured them.