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John Kavik

John Kavik was a sculptor and ceramicist from Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven), NU living in the area between Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake), NU and Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), NU [1]. Kavik came to carving later in life, following his experience working in mines in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU.

A prominent theme in Kavik's work is the human figure, in particular his sculptures of mother and child. Kavik generally carved solitary, expressive figures and sparingly used deep grooves to denote mouths, kamiik (boots) and parkas. He frequently used small drill holes to create eyes and nostrils or the outlines of hands. Often his figures had a rough texture and were unpolished,  however, figures such as Somersaulting Man: As I Think of Myself (1964) were exceptions to this stylistic preference [2]. Kavik also worked as a ceramicist, crafting thick pieces featuring motifs of people and animals emerging from the sides of the vessel in addition to clay figures that emulated his carving style.

Kavik has been featured multiple times in the Inuit Art Quarterly and has a rich exhibition history participating in numerous group and solo shows in Canada, the United States and Japan. In 1986, Kavik had his first solo exhibition titled Sculpture by John Kavik at Craft Ontario (formerly The Guild Shop) in Toronto, ON. His work is housed in major collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, ON, the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver, BC, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg, MB.


1. Thomas Ugjuk and Simeonie Kunnuk, “John Kavik’s Son, Thomas Ugjuk, Speaks About His Father and Himself,” Inuit Art Quarterly 8, no. 4 (1993): 30.
2. Robert Williamson “Memories of John Kavik 1897-1993,” Inuit Art Quarterly 8, no. 3 (1993): 46.