John Kurok is an artist from Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU, who works primarily as a ceramicist. He first began working with clay in high school and was soon instructing others in a variety of ceramic programs. Kurok’s practice has also expanded to include detailed and finely crafted stencil prints in 2002 . Kurok's drawing skills were apparent as a young teenager and he began working full-time as a ceramist in 1996.
Kurok's emphasis is on the relationship of different forms and movements, with a focus on birds and human faces. One such example is Man Holding Bird
(date unknown), where a multitude of faces, expressions, objects and textures fit seamlessly into the shape of the man's upper body. Each figure is captured mid-movement, echoing the bird ready to take flight from the man's hand. Kurok’s skill is also evident in the collaborative piece made with Leo Napayok titled Shaman's Head (II)
(c.2006), where animals, igloos and tools are carved expertly into the folds of the man's face. Kurok is also known to collaborate with other Matchbox artists on works, such as the well-known Enchanted Bear
(2013) with Jack Nuviyak, Roger Aksadjuak and Leo Napayok, which was featured in the Winter 2018 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.
Kurok's work has been exhibited at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg, MB, the Esker Foundation in Calgary, AB, the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, ON, the Cerny Collection in Bern, Switzerland, among many others throughout Canada and internationally . Most recently his work was exhibited in the traveling show, Earthlings
organized by the Esker Foundation, Calgary, AB.
Kurok’s work is also included in major collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON.
2016: Received support from the Inuit Art Foundation to attend a month-long residency at Medalta in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
1. Jim Shirley, "Bringing the Art to Life: 37 Voices from Across the Canadian Arctic," Inuit Art Quarterly 19, no. 3-4 (2004): 67.
2. Matchbox Gallery, "Kurok, John," Nunavut Arts & Crafts Association, accessed January 3, 2019, https://www.nacaarts.org/home/index.php/iu/artists/artist-biographies/155-john