David Ruben Piqtoukun is a celebrated sculptor and printmaker from Paulatuk, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Artmaking is an important link through which Piqtoukun connects with his roots as well as develops and explores his Inuit identity. He first began carving around the age of 22 after learning from carving books. But, as time passed, he realized that he needed to branch off in order to establish his own voice . Further engaging with Inuit culture through his work, Piqtoukun has said that although he can no longer speak Inuktitut, dormant words in his native language arise in his dialogue with the stone .
Piqtoukun’s craving style is distinctive, innovative and inspired by tradition. Stone and metal are his preferred materials, but he also works with walrus ivory, caribou antler and bone to represent eyes, claws and teeth . Inuit mythologies are central to Piqtoukun’s practice, and in 1975 he started compiling ancestral stories from his parents and elders. This exploration of oral history has strengthened the artist’s bond with his heritage. Other works are populated with masks, animal spirits and shamanistic transformations that are translates into unique, abstract forms. Piqtoukun’s personal history also plays a major role in his art. In the exhibition Between Two Worlds: Sculpture by David Ruben Piqtoukun at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) in Manitoba through 1997 and 1998, he explored cultural dislocation in the light of his experience at Residential School.
Piqtoukun has been the subject of successful solo exhibitions including the aforementioned exhibition at the WAG as well as included in numerous group shows in Canada and abroad, such as the Universty of Richmond in Virginia and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. His works are part of prestigious collections such as that of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, ON, and the Staatliche Museum für Völkerkunde in Munich, Germany. In 2000, he was the first Inuit artist to be appointed to the Sculpture Society of Canada. Piqtoukun currently resides in Ontario, but often returns to the North to fish, hunt and collect stories.
1989: Appointed to UNESCO's Canadian Committee for the World Decade of Cultural Development.
1986: Carved an Inukshuk for the first Native Business Summit at the Toronto Convention Centre.
1. “Jimmy Manning and David Ruben Piqtoukun with Gerald McMaster,” Inuit Modern Symposium, Art Gallery of Ontario (2011).
2. "David Ruben Piqtoukun," Inuit Art Quarterly 18, no. 4 (Winter 2003): 23.