The Way of Inuit Art

Aesthetics and History in and Beyond the Arctic


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About the Book

Inuit art, both ancient and contemporary, has inspired the interest of scholars, collectors and art lovers around the globe. This book examines Inuit art from prehistory to the present with special attention to methodology and aesthetics, exploring the ways in which it has been influenced by and has influenced non–Inuit artists and scholars. Part One gives the history of the main art-producing prehistoric traditions in the North American arctic, concentrating on the Dorset who once flourished in the Canadian region. It also demonstrates the influence of theories such as evolutionism, diffusionism, ethnographic comparison, and shamanism on the interpretation of prehistoric Inuit art. Part Two demonstrates the influence of such popular theories as nationalism, primitivism, modernism, and postmodernism on the aesthetics and representation of twentieth-century Canadian Inuit art. This discussion is supported by interviews conducted with Inuit artists. A final chapter shows the presence of Inuit art in the mainstream multi-cultural environment, with a discussion of its influence on Canadian artist Nicola Wojewoda. The work also presents various Inuit artists’ reactions to Wojewoda’s work.

About the Author(s)

Emily E. Auger (Ph.D.) is a retired art historian and author of numerous reviews, articles, and books. Founder and chair of the “Tarot and Other Divination Methods” area at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (2004–2020), she lives in rural southwestern Ontario.

Bibliographic Details

Emily E. Auger

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 304
Bibliographic Info: 184 photos, maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011 [2005]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6412-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface      1
Introduction      3

1. Arctic Traditions
The Traditional Way of Life      13
“Primitive” Patterns I (Primitive and Paleolithic)      15
The Arctic Small Tool Tradition (ASTt)      22
Post-Arctic Small Tool Tradition in Alaska      24

2. Shamanistic Traditions
Shamanism      40
The Supernatural Basis of Shamanistic Power      43
The Shaman’s Initiation      57
“Primitive” Patterns II (Shamanism and Art)      63

3. Dorset and Thule Traditions in Canada
“Primitive” Patterns III (Style and Culture)      67
The Dorset      71
The Thule      97

4. Historic Inuit Art
New Traditions of Inuit Carving      101
New Traditions of Inuit Printmaking      119
Market and Educational Expansions      125

5. Western Aesthetics and Inuit Art
The Western Categorical Context      129
“Primitive” Patterns IV (“Low” Art)      132
Inuit Art in the Modernist Context      137
Inuit Art in the Postmodernist Context      142
“Primitive” Patterns V (Primitivist Art)      147

6. Interviews with Inuit Artists
The Interviews      157
Female Inuit Carvers from Arviat (Eskimo Point) and Kangiqsliniq (Rankin Inlet)      157
Male Inuit Carvers from Arviat, Kangiqsliniq and Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake)      165
Female and Male Inuit Printmakers from Qamani’tuaq      186

7. Art by Nicola Wojewoda and Inuit Artists’ Responses to It
Nicola Wojewoda      204
Drawings and Paintings      206
Alternative Media      217
Sculpture      225

Conclusion      240
Notes      243
Bibliography      266
Index      289

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “comprehensive, well-written…a welcome addition to any collection…highly recommended”—Choice
  • “Emily Auger…does a great service…extensively researched volume…copious endnotes”—Catholic Library World