• Feature

10 Inuvialuit Sculptors and Jewellers to Know

May 29, 2024
by IAQ

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement on June 5, we’re highlighting 40 Inuvialuit artists we think you should know in a four-part series. Today we’re looking at 10 sculptors and jewellers from the region, including highly sought after jewellers like Caroline Blechert and internationally acclaimed sculptors like Abraham Anghik Ruben. Sculpture and jewellery making often overlap in both process and materials for Inuit artists, with some practicing within both disciplines. We’re thrilled to give you a taste of some of the work made by Inuvialuit artists! 

cblechert_enchantedbirdnecklaceCaroline Blechert Enchanted Bird Necklace (c. 2015) Delica beads, 24K gold-plated beads, porcupine quill, stroud, 24K gold chain and Swarovski crystals 7.6 x 10.2 cmCOURTESY INUIT GALLERY OF VANCOUVER © THE ARTIST

Caroline Blechert
Caroline Blechert is an Inuvialuk artist from Yellowknife, NT, who creates intricately beaded, geometric works under the label Creations for Continuity. She frequently uses delica beads, porcupine quills and dentalium shells in her beaded works, sometimes also incorporating caribou hide and hair, antler, and crystal. In 2017 her beaded work was on exhibit at Canada Scene’s Northern Artists Craft Market at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, ON, alongside fellow Inuvialuit Inuk (Brendalynn Trennert) and Lucy Nigiyok, and in the travelling exhibition Native Fashion Now at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York, New York. Alongside her jewellery, Blechert also practices photography and has contributed to tea&bannock, a blog by Indigenous women photographers. 

boulayPriscillaHeartEarrings_REPriscilla Boulay The Heart Earrings (2021)© THE ARTIST

Priscilla Boulay
Priscilla Boulay is a sculptor and jeweller from Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Born into a family of sculptors, Boulay’s practice incorporates a variety of materials, including stone, ivory, antler and horn. Since moving to Alberta in 2010 Boulay has worked as a sculptor full time but, finding it difficult to source certain materials, she began to adapt small, leftover pieces of stone, antler and muskox horn into her creative jewellery. Boulay’s works celebrate her Inuvialuit culture through imagery inspired by her experiences hunting, fishing, travelling and watching wildlife in the Arctic. 

ajdonovan_signaturestudantler_REErica Joan Donovan Signature Stud Antler (n.d.) Sterling silver, beads and caribou antler 10.2 cmCOURTESY SHE WAS A FREE SPIRIT © THE ARTIST

Erica Joan Donovan
Erica Joan Donovan is an artist from Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, and currently resides in the Beaufort Delta Region as a part of the Inuvik artistic community. Donovan is best known for her bold and colourful beaded jewellery pieces that are inspired by the land and her Inuvialuit roots. She regularly exhibits her work at major design events both nationally and internationally under her label She Was A Free Spirit, including at Paris Fashion Week in France in 2019; Toronto Indigenous Fashion Week, now Indigenous Fashion Arts, in Ontario in 2018 and 2020; and the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik. 

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Bill Nasogaluak Skeletal Bear (2010) Stone 12.1 x 24.8 x 9.5 cm COURTESY WADDINGTON’S © THE ARTIST
Bill Nasogaluak
Bill Nasogaluak is an accomplished multidisciplinary artist from Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who is best known for his sculptures. Nasogaluak began focusing on sculpting in the 1990s, and he uses various stones and materials like metal, narwhal tusk and caribou antler in his works. Through his sculpture, he frequently offers political commentary about the social, economic and cultural dimensions of contemporary Inuit life. Nasogaluak has exhibited nationally and internationally, including in the 2021 solo exhibition Bill Nasogaluak at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.


Joe Nasogaluak Warm Greeting (1994) Stone and bone 22.9 x 21.6 x 8.9 cm COURTESY INUIT GALLERY OF VANCOUVER © THE ARTIST

Joe Nasogaluak
Joe Nasogaluak is a well-known sculptor born and based in Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Coming from a family of artists—including his brothers Bill and Eli—he started creating sculptures at age 16 with antler, then quickly progressed to stone. In every piece, Nasogaluak encapsulates stories of struggle or humour through curves and intricate details. One of his works can be seen on display at the Vancouver International Airport in British Columbia, and in 2017 Nasogaluak made Taimani, a sculpture commissioned by the Governor General in celebration of the opening of the Inuvik–Tuktoyaktuk Highway.

Ronald Nuyaviak Drum Dancing Bear (n.d.) Stone and antler 20.3 x 17.8 x 10.2 cm COURTESY INUIT GALLERY OF VANCOUVER © THE ARTIST

Ronald Nuyaviak
Ronald Nuyaviak is an Inuvialuk sculptor who was born and raised in Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, and is now based in Yellowknife, NT. He frequently works with stone, bone and caribou antler, and he favours bears—particularly drum-dancing bears—sea mammals and hunters as subjects. In 2020 Nuyaviak, Derek Taylor, John Taylor and lead sculptor Derrald Taylor were brought together to form the Tuktoyaktuk Carving Project and produced the five thousand-pound marble statue that resides in Tuktuuyaaqtuuq in honour of the community’s previous leaders. Nuyaviak works alongside Derrald Taylor and other sculptors in a studio in Yellowknife. 

Abraham Anghik Ruben Snowy Owl (n.d.) Bronze 92 x 52 x 39.5 cm© THE ARTIST
Abraham Anghik Ruben, OC
Abraham Anghik Ruben, OC, is a prolific sculptor who was born near Paulatuk, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. He began his art career in the 1970s, simultaneously connecting with his cultural roots. His interest in his family’s history—especially that of his great-grandparents Apakark and Kagun, who were noted Yup'ik shamans—as well as Norse culture is expressed in many of his sculptures featuring motifs of Norse gods Odin and Thor, alongside shamans and the Inuit sea goddess. Ruben received the Order of Canada in 2016, and his sculptures have been featured in numerous exhibitions, including his first European solo exhibition Abraham Anghik Ruben: Moving Forward: Breaking Through at the Museum Cerny from 2014 to 2015 in Bern, Switzerland. 

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David Ruben Piqtoukun Mask (n.d.) Stone and painted metal 115.7 x 81.5 x 34 cm COURTESY ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO © THE ARTIST

David Ruben Piqtoukun
David Ruben Piqtoukun is a celebrated sculptor and printmaker from Paulatuk, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. He began sculpting in the 1970s, inspired by his brother Abraham Anghik Ruben, OC, and his preferred materials are stone and metal, but he also works with walrus ivory, caribou antler and bone. Traditional stories are central to Piqtoukun’s practice and can be seen in his sculptures of masks, animal spirits and shaman transformations. He was awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2022 and his sculptures have been featured in several exhibitions, including the 2023 solo exhibition Radical Remembrance: The Sculptures of David Ruben Piqtoukun at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. 

Derrald Taylor Bear Drummer with Walrus (2018) Marble, stone and caribou antler 31.8 x 12.7 x 10.2 cm COURTESY INUIT GALLERY OF VANCOUVER © THE ARTIST
Derrald Taylor
Derrald Taylor is a prolific sculptor and jeweller from Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, now based in Yellowknife, NT. Known for his realistic sculptures of arctic wildlife, hunters and drum dancers, Taylor got his start in the late 1980s to early 1990s, first creating small bird sculptures from stone and experimenting with ivory jewellery. In 2018 Taylor ran sculpture-making workshops in Yellowknife alongside fellow NT sculptors Eli Nasogaluak and John Sabourin to pass along their knowledge of the art form and the stories that inform their subject matter. Taylor has steadily exhibited his work at the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, since 1998 and works out of a studio in Yellowknife alongside other sculptors. 

bobby taylor p
Bobby Taylor Pokiak Geese and Whales (n.d.) Antler, bone, stone and dried grass 21.6 x 40.6 x 34.3 cm COURTESY HODGINS ART AUCTIONS © THE ARTIST
Bobby Taylor Pokiak
Bobby Taylor Pokiak (1927–2005) began creating sculptures in his hometown of Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, in the 1960s. First using a hand file, then chisels and saws, he would transform pieces of antler, bone and horn into sculptures—particularly birds like owls, swans and geese. Taylor Pokiak’s artistic influence was significant: as the patriarch of the Taylor family, he instilled a passion for sculpting within his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who carry on the family tradition. A few of his artistic family members include son Derrald Taylor, granddaughter Priscilla Boulay and great-grandson John Taylor.

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