Barbara Akoak is a skilled jeweller, visual and performance artist from Iqaluktuuttiaq, NU who is based out of Iqaluit, NU. Akoak received her diploma in Jewellery and Metalwork from the Nunavut Arctic College in 2015 . Working primarily in goldsmithing she ensures that most, if not all, of the material used in her work are eco-friendly and biodegradable. Akoak works often with gold, silver, bronze and copper as well as natural materials such as seal claws, antler, walrus ivory, narwhal tusk and raven feet. Akoak founded Inuk Barbie Designs in 2012 and runs her business out of Iqaluit.
Akoak uses her work to engage with environmental protection and the honouring of life to the animals whose materials are used, the usage of animal and natural material also allows for the dispelling of myths of the north being a lifeless-tundra . Akoak’s work is mostly feminine, citing traditional cultural taboos that some men in her community follow of not talking to women who are not relatives or romantic partners, which leaves her ignorant to male preferences in jewellery. Akoak has said on this, “I don’t feel a sense of oppression or disrespect when a person carries out practices from our ancestors, but I do know each generation is different and the world is changing .”
Akoak has travelled across Canada working as an artist, both selling and making work. She has been featured in many magazines including the cover of Up Here Oct/Nov 2017 issue and on the Inuit Art Quarterly online.
1. The Inuit Women in Business Network (IWBN), “Featured Profiles: Barbara Akoak,” IWBN. Accessed: May 30, 2018. https://www.pauktuutit.ca/iwbn/featured-profiles/