Leo Napayok is a sculpture and ceramic artist originally from Salliq (Coral Harbour), NU and now based in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet). Raised by parents who were both artists, Napayok came to his practice early, starting in stone carving. Working in softer stones he began by carving with hand tools, including chisels and hacksaws , before utilizing power tools in his later years. He worked in whalebone, carving people and animals. Napayok has fond memories of trapping on the land with his father and incorporates traditional imagery and activities into his work .
Napayok began working with clay when he moved to Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), through the Matchbox Gallery where he was instructed by Jim Shirley. Napayok has adapted his drawing and carving skills to clay, using an incising technique that creates a bas-relief effect, similar to the technique he uses in stone. He was the first artist to do so at the studio  and continues to work in an intuitive way without using drawings or models . His approach is to carve one figure at a time into the larger clay, the shape of the previous figure guiding the next .
Leo Napayok has worked with his peers at the Matchbox Gallery to produce many collaborative works. In 2017, the touring exhibition Earthlings included collaborative works by Napayok, Roger Aksadjuak, Shuvinai Ashoona, Pierre Aupilardjuk, Shary Boyle, Jessie Kenalogak and John Kurok. Earthlings started at the Esker Foundation, Calgary, AB before moving to Doris McCarthy Gallery, Toronto, ON, and the Nanaimo Art Gallery, BC. His work is in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada and the Gardiner Museum.
1. Leo Napayok, “Leo Napayok on Inuit Traditions,” video, 6:56, November 30, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVZ58zflUyM
2. Leo Napayok, ibid.
3. Jim and Sue Shirley, “Leo Napayok," accessed December 1, 2017, http://www.matchboxgallery.com/Leo_Napayok.html
4. Leo Napayok, ibid.
5. Leo Napayok, ibid.