www.iaca.com | (505) 265-9149 5 the state of Alaska promotes its
the state of Alaska promotes its “Silver Hand” program as a way
of guaranteeing the authenticity of art by members of Alaska
Native tribes. The program also offers training and educational
opportunities for artists across the state. Prominently missing,
though, is a centralized distribution system - collectors and dealers must either travel to Alaska, or establish direct relationships
with artists and traders.
There were numerous artists who are now deceased who had
great influence over artistic development in both Alaska and
northern Canada. Among the influential Alaskan artists were
Happy Jack and George Ahgupuk. Many other excellent artists
remain anonymous, since most of them did not sign their work
before the 1950s to 1960s. A few of the influential Canadian
artists were Kenojuak Ashevak, Kananginak Pootoogook, John
Tiktak, Karoo Ashevak, and Joe Talirunili.
Today there are thousands of native artists working in the Arctic
regions of North America. While much of the art from this area
is aimed at the tourist trade, there are a number of artists who
separate themselves from the crowd by creating exceptional
work. The work can stands out for its aesthetic values, its masterful execution, its innovation, and/or its cultural significance.
The best artists combine any and all of those characteristics into
very powerful, creative packages; Susie Silook is a Yup’ik/Inupiat
carver, David Ruben Piqtoukun is a Canadian Inuit artist, and
Lawrence Ahvakana is a talented and innovative artist from
This article has only scratched the surface of the topic of art
from the Arctic regions of North America. I hope this gives
you the impetus to do some further research on this fascinating
David and Ann Shultz are the owners of Home and Away Gallery in
Kennebunkport, Maine. The gallery offers Inuit and Eskimo art, and Native American arts and jewelry from across North America. It is the only
gallery of its kind in coastal New England. David has lectured on Inuit art
at the Boston International Fine Art Show and locally in southern Maine.
Above right: Inuk Ceremonial Mask,
carved by Larry Ahvakana, Inupiaq artist
from Barrow, Alaska from cedar wood.
Bottom right: “Healing Wings” by Susie
Silook (Yupak/Inupaiq). Made primarily
with ivory and bloodwood.
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