Retrospective Exhibit: Qaqaq Ashoona
In 1987, near the end of September, I was in Cape Dorset with a group trip organized by the McMichael Canadian Collection. My 25 years representing Inuit art have led me to fall in love with the far north, with its people, its culture and even its climate. On that fall morning, I remember the sky was a crystal blue and seemed to reflect the crisp temperature. In fact, the first snow of the winter began to fall as I was waiting for the plane that was to fly us south. The snow quickly built up, covering the green, grey earth with a soft blanket of pure white, causing our flight to be late.
While I was waiting in the Co-op, in came Qaqaq Ashoona, bringing his sculptures to town from the camp where he lived with his wife Mayureak. I had always admired Qaqaq's work and so I was delighted to meet the artist first-hand. His art is imbued with a deep spirituality. It is full of expression and a kind of primitive power, it is also technically sophisticated.
Qaqaq was a most interesting and charming person. I was fascinated by his tales of camp life, of the hunting and fishing, and his belief in the traditional way of Inuit life. He never converted to modern living and this was reflected in his work. A photo was taken of the two of us together and I will always value the moment it captures.
I was very sad to learn of Qaqaq's passing in 1996. Of course he will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him, but I also believe his death is a great loss to Inuit community and culture.
The 16 sculptures in the Retrospective exhibition have been selected in memory of his great talent.
Phillip Gevik, Director