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20 Carvers to Know in 2020: Sammy Kudluk

Jan 06, 2020
by John Geoghegan

“My materials tell me what they want to be,” explains Sammy Kudluk of his imaginative and sumptuously detailed carvings. Though Kudluk has made a career for himself as a graphic artist and painter, over the past two decades the Kuujjuaq-based artist has turned his attention to mixed-media sculpture with great success.

“When I first began sculpting I used stone, but soon became interested in bones and other organic materials,” he adds, “and now my favourite things to incorporate are polar bear, caribou and small animal skulls that I purchase from hunters or find out on the land.” Kudluk abstracts the sun-bleached skulls by carefully carving and positioning them, transforming unexpected objects into monstrous and fantastic creatures.

Shaman (c. 2012), like many of Kudluk’s carvings, is whimsical, unexpected and brimming with movement. Traditional subjects are important to the artist, who grew up hearing stories and legends from his family. Inspiration comes from looking at his materials and recognizing “something that I’ve heard before, an Inuit legend or hunting story,” the artist continues, “that’s how it starts.” From this point of inspiration, Kudluk explores the story in three dimensions, bestowing new life to a traditional story and bringing a pulsing energy to materials harvested from the land.

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