Johnny Jr. Inukpuk (1911 - 2007)

Inukpuk began carving while living on the land.

After moving to Inukjuak in the 1950s, James Houston encouraged him to continue carving. "The carvings back then used to be really cheap. Saumik [James Houston] was the one who encouraged people to carve, so I did. Carving gave us independence. . ." (Inukpuk in Inuit Art Quarterly 1998:30).

In 1974, he made a single print, entitled A True Story of Johnny Being Attacked by Three Polar Bears While in His Igloo, to document a real life hunting experience of his. To quote Marybelle Myers [Mitchell]: "While hunting one winter, Johnny built himself a small overnight igloo. He was caught unaware by three polar bears, and, since he had left his rifle outside, had to fend them off with a stick. Though he was a famous carver, he felt that he could not adequately tell this story in stone. He discussed it with the hunters in his community and, together, they decided the tale could best be told by means of a stonecut print. Johnny knew nothing about printmaking, but his inspiration guided him to the creation of a sincere and charming print" (Myers [Mitchell] 1974:2).

Inukpuk's wife, Mary, had a hare-lip, which was depicted in several of his female sculptures. The drilled eyes of his earlier works were eventually replaced by soapstone and ivory inlay; black eyes were made from melted vinyl records. In 1953, Inukpuk began carving green stone that was described by curator Darlene Wight as being "characterized by pronounced translucent layers that glow in the light and by gold patches that enhance this opalescent effect" (Wight 2006:84). His characteristically shiny, round heads began to appear in 1954.

In 1973, Inukpuk was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

[Source: Inuit Art Foundation 2012]