Ennutsiak


Courtesy Library and Archives Canada and Robert & Frances Flaherty

Ennutsiak was a renowned and respected carver known for his skilful depictions of Inuit community life. Originally from Nunavik, Ennutsiak spent most of his life on the land travelling around Baffin Island [1] eventually settling in Iqaluit, NU, where Ennutsiak gained recognition as a sculptor. 

In Iqaluit Ennutsiak became an active community leader who would organize traditional Inuit games during seasonal festivities and would tell stories over the radio [2].
As a sculptor Ennutsiak produced detailed carvings of daily life in the Arctic. His work often focused on gendered spaces and activities offering intimate glimpses into Inuit households and communities. He frequently carved scenes of men butchering walrus and seals and created captivating portrayals of women giving birth. Children and families were also common subjects in his work and capture interactions across multiple generations. Significantly, Ennutsiak rarely carved solitary figures, depicting people at least in pairs but often in gatherings. This suggests the importance of cooperation to Ennutsiak and what he perceived as an ideal cohesive community. 
Ennutsiak recorded the changes he observed occurring in the world around him in his carvings. The influence of Christianity, which was becoming established in the northern settlements, is present in his work. Inuit people going to church or reading the Bible were both subjects of Ennutsiak’s storytelling. In contrast, traditional Inuit spiritual beliefs were not something that he chose to portray, possibly alluding to the influence of Anglican missionaries on his own beliefs. His sculptures also documented the appearance of Euro-Canadian trade goods in Inuit culture, such as a pair of hunters carrying rifles or a family playing with musical instruments. The effect Ennutsiak masterfully created within his work was that each piece became a snapshot of a larger, ongoing narrative. 

Ennutsiak was met with huge commercial success toward the end of his life and posthumously. His remaining works continue to be auctioned at substantial values. Ennutsiak’s sculpture has been featured in multiple exhibitions in Canada, the United States and Europe and is held in permanent collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.



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Accomplishments

Spring 1977: A photo of Ennutsiak, his son and grandson appeared on the cover of Inuktitut Magazine.

About Ennutsiak

Medium:

Sculpture/Carving

Artistic Community:

Iqaluit, NU

Date of Birth:

Artists may have multiple birth years listed as a result of when and where they were born. For example, an artist born in the early twentieth century in a camp outside of a community centre may not know/have known their exact date of birth and identified different years.

Nunavik
1896

Date of Death:

Artists may have multiple dates of death listed as a result of when and where they passed away. Similar to date of birth, an artist may have passed away outside of a community centre or in another community resulting in different dates being recorded.

1967
The Igloo Tag Trademark
The Igloo Tag Trademark is an internationally recognized symbol that denotes handmade, original artwork made by Inuit artists in Canada. Established in 1958, the Trademark is now managed by the Inuit Art Foundation. The appearance of the Igloo Tag on an artist profile means they have had the Trademark applied to their artwork.

Edit History

November 7, 2017
January 1, 1900 Created by: Benjamin Clément Updated by: Rebecca Gray