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Omalluq Oshutsiaq

Omalluq Oshusiaq was a carver of incredible renown. She was the daughter of artists Etidlooie Etidlooie (1910-1981) and Kingmeata Etidlooie (1915-1989), prominent graphic artists in Kinngait. Oshutsiaq began drawing in the 1960s as a teenager but her imaginative works were never translated into prints for the annual print collections. Oshutsiaq continued to create drawings through the early 1980s, but by that time she had become recognized for her carvings of figures from local serpentinite.

Oshutsiaq was one of a handful of female artists from Kinngait who gained international recognition for their carvings. Oshutsiaq made many sculptures of women, particularly mothers, but also carved transformation scenes and figures from Inuit legends. She became well-known for her depictions of women in labour, a theme she explored from the early 1980s to the end of her carving career. She was not the first artist to carve women in labour, but her frequent revisinting of the subject made it linked to her. Her Birthing Scene, 1987 shows a woman supported by a midwife on her left and comforted by a small child on her right while she delivers a child. Each figure wears a parka with incised trim detail, another signature of the artist.

A carving incident in the late 2000s left Oshutsiaq unable to carve, she instead turned her efforts back to the media she began exploring almost 50 years before. Her drawings are colourful and incredibly personal recollections of her life and career. In 2015 the Winnipeg Art Gallery purchased nineteen of her drawings from 2013-2014. 

Oshutsiaq’s husband Simeonie Oshutsiaq (1943-2013), sons Pitseolak and Matheussie Oshutsiaq and daughter Mary Oshutsiaq (1972-2014) were all carvers in Kinngait. Oshutsiaq was a member of the Board of Directors of the Inuit Art Foundation from 1990 to 1993 and her work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Arctic Experience Gallery in 1993. Works by Oshutsiaq can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the National Gallery of Canada and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.