Bart Hanna Kappianaq

Bart Hanna Kappianaq is a renowned sculptor based in (Iglulik) Igloolik, NU. Hanna Kappianaq was taught the basics of carving by his father when he was young. At the age of 14 years old, he began to learn more during treatment for tuberculosis in Ontario by emulating the many other Inuit carvers that were also receiving care. Kappianaq later pursued formal artistic training at Algonquin College in Ottawa, ON [1].

Hanna Kappianaq works with soapstone, serpentinite, alabaster, ivory and bone to create cravings that stay true to the nature of the material [2]. In some, cases the artist will combine materials as evident in Seagoddist (2009), where the totems emerging from the figure’s mouth are carving in ivory while the remaining sculpture is done in stone. The materials Kappianaq uses come in set shapes and textures, and he takes care to allow the sculpture to emerge in such a way that appears naturally from the material. His approach to carving is highlighted through the variety of ways he chooses to depict the sea goddess Sedna—a figure from Inuit folklore often portrayed as half woman half fish. Depending on the material used, Hanna Kappianaq’s final work varies in terms of how human or aquatic the final figure appears. In some cases he depicts a more masculine version of the spirit, such as in Seagoddist where Sedna is bearded with a muscular chest, while in other iterations the sea goddess boasts more feminine features. These treatments show the artist’s interest in giving ancestral folklore a personal touch. The intricate details used by Hanna Kappianaq also represents his mastery of carving. In Bird Shaman (year unknown), Hanna Kappianaq renders each of the individual feathers on the figure with great detail leaving a stunning final form.

While primarily known for his sculptures, Hanna Kappianaq has also provided illustrations for Anijaarniq: Introducing Inuit Land Skills and Wayfinding, an educational CD-ROM used in high schools throughout the territory of Nunavut. He is constantly expanding his knowledge and travels frequently to study carving among other artistic practices around Canada, Europe and the United States. These travels also give him the opportunity to teach his process of sculpture internationally [3].

Hanna Kappianaq was the artist-in-residence at the Kipling Gallery and the McMicheal Canadian Art Collection in 2006 [4]. His work is held in the permanent collections of galleries and museums throughout Canada and the United states and has appeared in Inuit Art Quarterly on multiple occasions [5]. In 2019, his sculpture of Sedna was unveiled at Parliament Hill for Nunavut's 20th Anniversary, where it will be on display in the House of Commons. 



2006: Artist in Residence, McMichael Canadian Art Collection
2006: Artist in Residence, Kipling Gallery


1. Sonia Gunderson, “Bart Hanna: Art of a Wanderer,” Inuit Art Quarterly 22, no. 2 (Summer 2007): 20.
2. Ibid., 22.
3. Ibid., 20.
4. “Bart Hanna,” Inuit Art Alive,” accessed November 2, 2016,
5. Gunderson, “Art of a Wanderer,” 22.