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Tradition and Transformation

Twentieth-Century Inuit Art from the Collection of the Hood Museum of Art

October 22, 2014, through December 06, 2015
carved whalebone inlaid with walrus ivory, baleen, and stone

Karoo Ashevak, Untitled (Shaman), about 1970–74, carved whalebone inlaid with walrus ivory, baleen, and stone. Bequest of Evelyn Stefansson Nef; 2011.25.2.

Ready to Leave for the Hunt, 1983, stonecut print on paper

Sarah Joe Qinuajua and Annie Amamatuak, Ready to Leave for the Hunt, 1983, stonecut print on paper. Gift of Jane and Raphael Bernstein; 2011.64.17.

Bird with Spread Wings

Seepee Ipellie, Bird with Spread Wings, 1983, polished gray serpentine. Gift of Jane and Raphael Bernstein; 2011.64.15.

The majority of artists in this installation represent a generation of Inuit from the arctic and subarctic regions of Canada who lived fully “on the land.” Several changes occurred during the mid-twentieth century that pressured the Inuit to change their traditional life ways by moving into settlements. Although the Inuit had been trading works they made out of a variety of materials since the time of contact, new visitors encouraged them to use their knowledge and skills to create work—in stone, fabric, drawings, and on paper—that would be oriented for a non-Inuit art market.

The majority of works in this installation were made by the first generation of Inuit artists to exhibit and sell their work to new markets in the south through art dealers and cooperatives. The objects they produced are remarkable works of art, widely sought after by collectors, and now in the collections of major museums all over the world. Most importantly, the production of this work created a vehicle for preserving cultural knowledge and sustaining tradition while innovating and creating new forms of expression.

This exhibition is made possible by The Harrington Gallery Fund and an endowment from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 
Curated by Katherine W. Hart, Senior Curator of Collections and Barbara C. & Harvey P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming / Amelia Kahl, Associate Curator of Academic Programming / Vivian Ladd, Museum Educator
Hood Museum