Today is International Friendship Day, a day for celebrating close companions and loved ones, and a reason for gathering and greeting old and new friends. So check in on your buddies today, tell your pals you care about them, and prioritize your friendships because life is better with them! Keep reading for 5 pieces of Inuit art about friendship and connection.
Thomasie Alikatuktuk Best Friends (1978) Stonecut 30.5 x 45.7 cmCOURTESY NORTHERN EXPRESSIONS
Who can you be silly around if not your friends? In this stonecut print, Thomasie Alikakatuktuk of Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung), NU, shows three buddies horsing around, with one figure turning his chum into a human wheelbarrow as he holds him up by the ankles. The third watches on, knees bent as he giggles and shakes a stick at his friend’s shenanigans. Who would you consider your best playmates?
Chantal Jung Miriam (2018) Mixed mediaCOURTESY THE ARTIST
The process Nunatsiavummiuk artist Chantal Jung goes through to create these hand-made collages is rooted in honouring friendship. Jung cuts and pastes portraits of loved ones, along with layers of their favourite plants or flowers. “People get very excited about sharing their favourite plants,” Jung explains in an interview about her work, which was featured in the Fall 2020 issue of the IAQ, “There’s usually a personal story that goes with them.” In this collage of her pal Miriam, we learn that she loves the aromatic herbs of rosemary and mint as they frame her smiling face.
Davidialuk Alasua Amittu Inuk Delousing Spirit (c. 1952) Stone 17.7 x 20.3 x 11.4 cmCOURTESY TD CORPORATE ART COLLECTION
In this sculpture by renowned sculptor Davidialuk Alasua Amittu, an Inuk steps in to help a Kajutajuq sidekick with their lice problem. Kajutajuq—creatures with legs that sprout from their head—are notorious for bringing trouble to unsuspecting Inuit by kicking their way into Iglus. Here, Alasua Amittu shows that all spirits deserve acts of kindness, because strangers are just friends waiting to happen.
Mary Okheena Friends Forever (1994) Woodcut 99.1 x 134.6 cmCOURTESY NORTHERN EXPRESSIONS
Mary Okheena exuberantly depicts the joy and pleasure that comes from friendship in this bold graphic woodcut print. A pair of seals get on swimmingly with a pair of Inuit as they ride the concentric current of connection. The central figure raises her arms, proclaiming “Friends Forever!” as she celebrates her comrades, both human and animal alike.
Pierre Aupilardjuk Friends Sharing Gossip (n.d.) Stoneware 40.5 x 28 x 20 cm eachCOURTESY ESKER FOUNDATION PHOTO M.N. HUTCHINSON
Is there anything better than sharing gossip with a friend? This pair of ceramic sculptures by Pierre Aupilardjuk captures the energy and connection of two besties catching up, arms raised and heads tilted to help animate the story they share with one another. Emerging from their bodies is a series of expressive faces, reacting to the latest events in their social network. My advice? Brag about your friends behind their back.