Born in 1955 in a hunting camp near Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay), NU, Manasiah Akpaliapik is a prominent artist currently based between Montreal, QC and Ottawa, ON renowned for his highly detailed and evocative sculptures made of organic materials such as whalebone. His parents Lazaroosee Akpaliapik and Nakyuraq Akpaliapik were both carvers, though Akpaliapik was first exposed to carving from his adopted grandparents Peter and Elisapee Kanangnaq Ahlooloo and great-aunt Paniluk Qamanirq . By carefully observing their techniques, Akpaliapik began to learn how to carve and started to practice his own skills on leftover materials around the age of ten.
Akpaliapik was dedicated to growing his artistic abilities and attended Red River College in Winnipeg, MB before participating in an apprenticeship in Montreal, QC. Akpaliapik’s early sculptures were highly detailed and representational but as his technical skills increased his style evolved to include more depictions of Inuit legends and myths. Akpaliapik depicts human connection to animals, Inuit legends and aspects of shamanism, as well as contemporary social issues that threaten Inuit communities. He also draws from and incorporates elements of his own personal narrative, as Akpaliapik sees carving as a healing practice . Foregrounded in his work is an emphasis on the balance required between all living things.
The Inuit Art Quarterly has featured Akpaliapik and his work in numerous issues, including the cover for the Spring 1990 and Winter 1993 issues. In 1995, he was the subject of Cathy Gulking’s documentary Cry of the Ancestors: The Art of Manasie Akpaliapik, which aired on CBC in June 1995 . Akpaliapik’s work has appeared in multiple group and solo exhibitions in public and commercial galleries across Canada and abroad. His works are a part of numerous major collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, ON, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, QC, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Québec, QC and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, ON, among others.
2017: Participated in the Usuaq carving project, organized by the Walrus Foundation
2016: Featured in a video profile titled "Un artist, une ouevre: Manasie Akpaliapik" by Marilyn Laflamme
1996: Participated in Qiagit '96, hosted by the Inuit Art Foundation
1995: Cathy Gulking's documentary Cry of the Ancestors: The Art of Manasie Akpaliapik won a Gemini Award
1995: Carved the inukshuk that was used as the logo for the Immaginario show in Verona, Italy. Organized by Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
1989: Awarded a Canada Council Explorations Grant
1989: One of the Canadian representatives at the Ainu Cultural Society conference in Shraoi Hokaido, Japan
1. “Manasie Akpaliapik,” Spirit Wrestler Gallery, accessed August 29, 2018, http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php?artists_id=141.
2. John Ayre, “Carving is Healing to Me: An Interview with Manasie Akpaliapik,” Inuit Art Quarterly 8, no.4 (Winter 1993): 38.
3. “Update: People,” Inuit Art Quarterly 10, no. 3 (Fall 1995): 61.