Hearts and flowers and candy, oh my! Inuit artists have created many and varied depictions of love—romantic love, familial love, community love and more—but today we’re taking a look at works that contain traditional tropes of love. Whether you’re celebrating love day or just feeling the need for a little love on any day, keep reading to see what symbols Inuit artists have incorporated into their love languages.
Simon Oleekatalik Inuk with Heart (n.d.) Pyroxene 26.7 × 15.2 × 8.9 cm© THE ARTIST
When I look at this adorable sculpture by Simon Oleekatalik, I can’t help but smile. The figure’s short stature, white beady eyes and tilted head remind me of a small child looking up at their parents. It makes me wonder—is this little Inuk sweetly asking for something? Or maybe they are simply gazing up with adoration. The simplicity of the dark coloured mineral allows for Oleekatalik’s carving skills to shine, including the sculpted opening at the centre revealing a dangling heart inside. This simple detail evokes the innocent love that comes from our tiniest family members. Inuk with Heart reminds me that love is within all of us, no matter our size.
—Lisa Frenette, Associate Editor
Kablusiak Heart Paddle (2022) Dyed sealskin, leather and artificial sinew 30.5 × 17.8 × 6.4 cmCOURTESY NORBERG HALL © THE ARTIST
Kablusiak’s Heart Paddle is a reminder that there are many different expressions of affection and desire out there. This saucy love paddle is part of an exhibition called After Care, a term used in BDSM, fetish and kink circles for the emotional support you are supposed to provide to your submissive partner after acts of domination, to ensure a rebalancing of emotional equilibrium after they have willingly given up some or all of their power to the dominant partner. Boasting soft leather and deep red sealskin you can be sure to give or receive spanks this February 14th with the highest quality natural materials. Or maybe you just really like ping pong…either way, no judgment!
—Napatsi Folger, Associate Editor
Chantal Jung Sydnie (2018) Mixed media 33 × 24 cm© THE ARTIST
Some people love a vase full of spring tulips. Others swoon for sunflowers. I personally love a top-heavy dahlia, leaning into its own weight and beauty—it’s such a show off. Sydnie, the subject of Chantal Jung’s mixed-media collage, is a fan of the traditional red rose, usually associated with passion and romance. Jung’s series of flower portraits, which graced the cover of IAQ’s Relations issue, features seven strong women posing with their blooms of choice. I love how Sydnie appears to be cloaked in the roses, her face peering out in several places from behind the petals, suggesting that this is a person full of wonderful complexities. Jung, who is originally from Happy-Valley Goose-Bay, NL, has spent years honing her collage style, experimenting with various found materials. In a 2019 interview with IAQ, Jung explained how making an art piece of someone creates an intimate connection. I can feel the intimacy in the piece, and am particularly drawn to how Sydnie looks directly at the camera as if to say, “I deserve all these flowers and more.”
—Sue Carter, Deputy Editor
Taqralik Partridge Beaded Heart Earrings (2022) Glass beads© THE ARTIST
Beaded earrings are my love language, and Taqralik Partridge is speaking to me. The writer, multi-disciplinary artist and curator from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, QC, is fluent in using a wide vocabulary of media to communicate, from her spoken-word performances to her photographs chronicling how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted her creative practice. Since the new year, I’ve been enjoying seeing the collection of Beaded Heart Earrings that Partridge has been creating in time for Valentine’s Day. I’m infatuated by her combination of romantic reds and purples with a contrasting striped border and lacy neon beaded edging. Backed by deer hide, Partridge knows just the words to make this Inuk swoon on V-Day.
—Leanne Inuarak-Dall, Contributing Editor
Pudloo Samayualie Untitled (Hot Tamales) (2015) Coloured pencil and ink 38.1 x 58.4 cmREPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION DORSET FINE ARTS COURTESY INUIT GALLERY OF VANCOUVER © THE ARTIST
Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like a little red hot spice. This 2015 drawing from Pudloo Samayualie was created alongside a small suite of confectionery-inspired subjects—including jellybeans and the suggestively named “juicy squirts.” The Hot Tamales, however, are my personal favourite. This piece offers an early window into the artist’s signature cross-hatching technique and her inclination to work in grid-like compositions, something she has continued to use to great effect in her more architecturally driven works. It is also, of course, a studied and carefully rendered image of a subject pulled from her daily life with some cheeky humour thrown in for good measure. It’s the graphic equivalent of a wink and the tastiest one around.
—Britt Gallpen, Editorial Director
Dayle Kubluitok Queen of hearts, King of hearts (2020) Digital illustration© THE ARTIST
While not typically considered objects of affection, card games play an important role at my family gatherings, as a way to spend quality time together. These face cards, by Dayle Kubluitok, are vibrant, fun and eye-catching. The Iqaluit, NU-based graphic artist incorporates Inuit aesthetics into the deck: the Queen of hearts, with her tunniit, symmetrically patterned amauti and Arctic poppy in hand stand out, and the King of hearts follows suit. Rich colours saturate both cards; vibrant red pulls focus and is balanced by bold yellow accents and alternating black and white detailing. On a day to celebrate love and relationships of all kinds, I can’t think of a better way than gathering around a deck of cards.
—Nadine Ryan, Assistant Editor