Osuitok Ipeelee



Osuitok Ipeelee was a talented artist from a Neeouleeutalik Camp, NT who later became based out of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. He first learned to carve by watching his father make ivory cribbage boards, which he often sold to sailors. At thirteen Ipeelee began carving toys out of leftover pieces of wood from packing crates and in his twenties he was carving ivory sculptures to sell to the Roman Catholic missionaries in Kinngait [1].

His work is easily identifiable due to the delicacy, detail, balance and unique creativity he brought to each work he produced [2]. Ipeelee also worked as a printmaker and his skills in both sculpture and printmaking led to his work being recognized as some of the best by fellow artists and collectors. Ipeelee became an instrumental part of both printmaking and sculpture becoming established art practices in Kinngait [3] and his work grew in popularity in the South.
In 1952 the National Gallery of Canada presented the exhibition Eskimo Art, which included four of his works and 1955 exhibition Eskimo Sculpture also held at the National Gallery of Canada featured six of Ipeelee’s sculptures. This began a long list of museum and gallery exhibitions around the world that have presented his sculptures and prints.

In 1955 Ipeelee was asked to take part in carving an official mace for the Council of the Northwest Territories. He was also commissioned in 1959 to carve a sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II to be given to the Queen herself upon her arrival in Canada. His major achievements include being elected as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1973 and receiving the Lifetime Aboriginal Art Achievement Award now known as the Indspire Award in 2004.

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Accomplishments

1970: Commissioned by Public Works Canada to create an Inukshuk at External Affairs Headquarters in Ottawa.
1959: Created a carving of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth which was presented to her on the occasion of her visit to Canada.



Citations/Footnotes

1. Jean Blodgett, “Osuitok Ipeelee,” Inuit Art: An Anthology (Winnipeg: Watson & Dwyer Pub., 1988). 
2. Marybelle Mitchell, ”In Memoriam - Osuitok Ipeelee,” Inuit Art Quarterly 21, no. 2 (Summer 2006) 42, accessed October 12, 2016, http://iaq.inuitartfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/21.2.pdf. 
3. "Osuitok Ipeelee," Indspire, http://indspire.ca/laureate/osuitok-ipeelee-2/