Man and Woman Going After Walrus (1979) by Leah Qumaaluk (1934–2010) is an incredible stonecut. The large, expressive walrus in the foreground looks away while the couple attempting to sneak up on the creature appear both worried and fearful of their giant prey. The tension is right there on the page. It is a very true print, and Qumaaluk is conveying the emotions of how people feel when they go out to hunt.
To me, the most interesting aspect of this print is the texture. Qumaaluk employs small white areas of negative space to indicate the direction that the fur is laid on her figures. On the man’s kamiik (boots) the thin lines point downwards, while the wind seems to move left to right on those of his companion. There is a lot of knowledge that is shared here, such as traditional clothing, that may not be obvious at first glance.
I have a difficult time discerning why this work was refused. To me, it is very complete. I remember that some high-quality prints did not resonate with members of the CEAC. While I understand that their goal was to protect the market, perhaps they were reviewing so many images so quickly that a detailed, expressive print like this was simply not given the full consideration it deserves.
This Choice first appeared in the Fall 2019 Issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly as part of the article “What Gets Lost: The Canadian Eskimo Arts Council’s Rejected Prints”.