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Artists showcased in Iqaluit

By Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 1, 2008

IQALUIT - Carvings by John Nutarariaq sell faster than any other artist represented by the art display organized by Nunavut Holdings in the Nova Inn in Iqaluit.

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John Nutarariaq's artwork is on display at Nova Inn in Iqaluit. - photo courtesy of Nunavut Holdings

The well-rounded carver explores a wide variety of subjects in his work.

"I do anything and everything because I've learned from different artists," he said, referring to the Cape Dorset artists he carved with while working with Polar North in Montreal from the early 1990s until 2005. "I was young and doing anything."

Originally from Iglulik, Nutarariaq travelled back and forth between Montreal and Pond Inlet for more than a decade. He moved to Iqaluit in May and soon began selling carvings to Nunavut Holdings.

His signature theme is salmon, but he also carves shamanic drum dancers and polar bears.

"My first carving was when I was 12 and it was a seal," he recalled. "I sold it for $2 at the Iglulik Co-op." Carving is Nutarariaq's life-long passion. Working with stone fills him with positive energy, he said.

"It takes you away from everyday thoughts. There's nothing between you and that art. There's nothing that's going to bother you. It's like a trip to the moon. You're all by yourself and you take care of what you have to and when you're done you come back to the daily routine at the end of the day."

Nutarariaq's latest soapstone work is a polar bear shaman standing about two-feet tall.

He said he is looking forward to becoming even more established as a Northern artist. He plans to devote himself to sharing what his elders taught him with youth in his community.