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20 Carvers to Know in 2020: Joe Nasogaluak

Jan 15, 2020
by Jessica MacDonald

“I don’t believe there are any rules when it comes to making art” says sculptor Joe Nasogaluak, of Tuktoyaktuk, NT. “Sometimes I sand, sometimes I don’t. Who says it all has to be shiny?” Nasogaluak’s confidence in his own vision and art are informed by his family of carvers and storytellers, whose Inuvialuit legends and stories he uses in his work. Nasogaluak’s brothers Bill and Eli are famous carvers in their own right, with broad bodies of work. Nasogaluak started carving at age sixteen, initially working with antler. Now, he carves mainly in stone, although he creates a snow sculpture every year for the sunrise festival in Tuktoyaktuk, to celebrate the return of the sun.

Among his many pieces, Nasogaluak’s best known feature stories of struggle or humour. “I like to carve feelings and emotions of people in particular,” says the artist, and “to make work that represents issues in the social world, like domestic abuse or suicide.” The Shaman’s Dream shows a more spiritual point of view; from one side, you can see amorphous spirits stirring in the mind of the sleeping shaman. On the other side, a bird cradles the shaman’s head in his wings, while the figure of a woman in profile kneels, her hair merging with the waves generated by a passing seal.

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