• Choice

20 Carvers to Know in 2020: John Terriak

Jan 16, 2020
by Emily Henderson

Based in Nain, Nunatsiavut, John Terriak has an established artistic practice that began in the 1980s. Terriak began carving at 17, and is proficient in many different materials, including soapstone, marble, serpentine, whalebone, antler, wood, ivory, gold and silver. Terriak quarries his own stone, and often incorporates inlaid sculptural elements in his work.

Terriak is also a strong advocate for other Inuit artists. In 1994, he was elected as the first ever Inuk president of the Inuit Art Foundation board of directors. During his many years of service on the board, Terriak promoted the recognition and advancement of all Inuit artists and those from his region of Nunatsiavut.

Inspiration for his pieces comes from the natural phenomena, landscape and people around him, as well as from his own dreams. He was commissioned in 2000 to carve a five-foot inukshuk for the Labrador Winter Games and had carvings included in the touring exhibition SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut, of which Sea Light is one. A functional oil lamp, this piece is shaped like the waves on a craggy sea, with a patch of calm in the centre that allows light to break through.