Pie Kukshout was a sculptor and ceramicist who was born in Hanningajuq (Garry Lake), NU .
Kukshout moved first to Tikirarjuaq (Whale Cove), NU, and then to Kangiqlinq (Rankin Inlet),
NU, to escape inland starvation . Known for his imaginative images, he has been called “one
of the most underrated artists to emerge from the [Rankin Inlet Ceramics] project” .
Kukshout worked with stone as a carver, and when the government began funding the Rankin
Inlet Ceramics Project in the 1960s following the closure of the mine, Kukshout was already
approaching seventy. Nevertheless, he became one of the project’s first participants, and quickly
transferred his stone carving experience to the clay mastery for which he is best known.
Two Faced Head with Climbing Figure and Bird (c. 1970) is an excellent example of the
sculptural approach to clay for which the Kangiqliniq ceramicists became known. Although
bureaucrats in Ottawa wanted the artists to produce vessels, fearing that ceramic sculptures could have an adverse effect on the stone carving market , Kukshout, alongside his collaborators, continued to produce sculptural work. Here, the face of an elderly man bursts out of the forehead of the younger man, showing the evolution of time on the human body, perhaps in a portrait of the artist’s own changing face. The surface on the back of the two front-facing heads could have been simply a textural representation of hair, but Kukshout has used this real estate to depict a figure climbing to a flying bird, possibly symbolically representing his own struggles to capture his subject matter during his artistic journey.
Kukshout’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions across Canada and the United
States, most recently in the 2008 exhibit Our Land: Contemporary Art from the Arctic at the
Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. His works appear in the public collections of the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Manitoba, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, among others.
1 Inuit Art Foundation Artist Biography Records, October 1993, Binder 3, Artists K-N, IAF
Archives, Toronto, ON.
2 Neale, Stacey. “The Rankin Inlet Ceramics Project: A Study in Development and Influence.”
Master’s thesis, Concordia University, 1997.
4 “Part One: A Study in Development and Influence,” Inuit Art Quarterly 14, no. 1 (Spring