Tommy Takpanie Jr. is a full-time carver from Iqaluit, NU, who is known for his polar bear sculptures. Tommy Sr., his father, is also a carver, as are Tommy Jr.’s siblings Pauloosie, Jamasee, Jackie and Mary.
Takpanie’s father is also known for his polar bears, although he usually depicts them dancing, where Takpanie Jr. shows them in realistic motion. Carving bears is something of a legacy in the Takpanie family, as brothers Pauloosie and Jackie are also known for their bears. “We’re a polar bear family” says Takpanie Jr., adding that all he ever receives as commission requests are polar bears . One small bear takes him about an hour to carve, and he will sell them for between 80 and 100 dollars .
Striding Polar Bear (n.d.) is a good example of Takpanie Jr.’s realistic approach to form. Depicted in mid-stride, as many of his bears are, this ursine specimen lumbers forward with his head upright, assessing the viewer with a level stare.
Even though bears are his family legacy, Takpanie Jr. says that the polar is truly his favourite subject matter . His works have travelled both nationally and internationally, and been prime specimens in exhibits specifically showcasing bears, such as “The Bear: Sculpture” at Albers Gallery in San Francisco, California, in 1993.
1 Nunatsiaq News, “Photo: Polar Bear King Sits on his Throne to Carve,” accessed November 15, 2019, from https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/65674photo_polar_bear_king_sits_on_his_throne_to_carve/2 Ibid.
3 INAC, Inuit Artist Biography System. 1995.