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Alain Iyerak

Alain Iyerak was a sculptor from Iglulik (Igloolik), NU. Iyerak was born near Naujaat (Repulse Bay), NU, and also lived in Igluligaarjuk (Chesterfield Inlet), NU [1]. He used bone, stone and antler in his carving practise to create pieces that reflected on traditional Inuit ways of life. Iyerak’s son is the sculptor Joseph Qulluak Iyerak [2].

Hunter in Kayak (n.d.) was sold at auction in 2016. This piece includes the accessories of traditional hunting practice, such as the avataq (seal-skin float), which was used both as a safety device and hunting tool, and the harpoon strapped to the front of the kayak. Iyerak has reversed the materiality of his subject matter, portraying the hunter and sealskin in stone and rendering the kayak and paddles with bone, using the darker stone to contrast the bone but also ironically depicting his living subjects in ‘dead’ material.

Iyerak’s works still appear at auction but many are held in the public collections of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the McMichael Gallery, and the Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal.

One of his sculptures is on permanent display on the upper floor of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly Building [3], and another was presented to the Speaker of the House of Commons in Ottawa in 1967, to be placed in the recently remodelled Commonwealth Room of the Parliament Buildings [4]. His sculptures have been exhibited at galleries across Canada, as well as in Boston, and he was most recently featured in the exhibition Ivory, Bone, Antler and Horn: Masterworks of Inuit Sculpture at the McMichael Gallery in 2018 [5]. 



Citations/Footnotes

1) Inuit Art Foundation Artist Biography Records, April 1990, Binder 2, Artists E-J, IAF Archives, Toronto, ON.

2) Ibid.

3) Sandy Campbell, Caribou Carving at the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly” July 8, 2015, accessed from https://era.library.ualberta.ca/items/c1b33f29-6893-4cb5-be63-7224248d72fc

4) Inuit Art Foundation Artist Biography Records, April 1990, Binder 2, Artists E-J, IAF Archives, Toronto, ON.

5) McMichael Art Gallery, “Ivory, Bone, Antler and Horn: Masterowkrs of Inuit Sculpture,” accessed October 7, 2019 from http://mcmichael.com/event/ivory-bone-antler-and-horn-masterworks-of-inuit-sculpture/