ivory and soapstone, 18.5" (height)
Jonasie Faber Artist Biography
Jonasie Faber (male; b:1944); Inuit art sculpture carver; born Julianehaab, Greenland.
Jonasie (Quarqortoq) Faber is an Inuit artist who occupies a unique place in the Inuit culture of Canada. He moved to Canada when he was 30, and now lives in Princeton, B.C. In contrast to other Inuit carvers, many of whom remain deeply rooted in their homeland and in their culture, Jonasie has traveled widely and experienced many other cultures while still preserving his Inuit heritage.
At the age of fifteen, Faber felt the urge to sail the seven seas and he signed on as seamancadet on the sailing training-ship George Stage, in which he sailed the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, getting as far as Rio de Janeiro. Later, he served on an icebreaker in the high Arctic, and obtained his navigator’s ticket from the naval officers’ college in Kopenhagen. For many years he plied the stormy waters around Greenland before becoming the harbour master of Godthab. He traveled to Greenland and the Canadian Arctic with a millionaire to buy sculptures by Inuit artists for resale in the rest of Canada. Some of the sculptures were damaged during the shipment, and Jonasie Faber set about repairing them himself, this gave him the impetus to try sculpting.
Like many Inuit artists, he, too, is an acid hunter and even casts his own ammunition. While out hunting one day, he discovered a deposit of soapstone, the rock used by Inuit artists for their sculptures, 100km away from the nearest highway. He leased the piece of land which lies only 50 km north of the U.S. border and about 250 km from his home. Having acquired his own quarry, he had solved the problem of obtaining the material for his sculptures. The rock, though, is not the usual light- or dark- green soapstone of the Arctic familiar to us through the sculptures from Cape Dorset and Baker Lake, but a soapstone with yellowish- brown to reddish inclusions, lending it a kind of grain which Jonasie Faber uses – or he would not be an artist- like a woodcarver uses the grain of his wood as an integral part of his carvings to emphasize their three-dimensional character. The grain of the stone plays an essential part in all his sculptures, though, even when he uses green soapstone. As an ardent hunter, Faber will shoot anything but bears. Bears are accorded an almost reverent respect by him. His family is delighted when he brings home the game he was bagged, but no bear meat is ever put on his table.
Through hunting and the outdoors, Faber retains a physical connection to his culture which has also lead him to the discovery of a significant archaeological site, yet to be studied in detail. A true Renaissance man, Jonasie is also an avid amateur historian. In the late 1980's, he petitioned Greenlandic Home Rule to take action to preserve Illulissat glacier and the remains of a Viking Church dating to the year 1000. In 1991, the Greenlandic government sent him to Paris to begin the process of having the sites included in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. Jonasie envisioned a replica of Tjodhildes, the Viking Church, near the original site. Unable to secure Government funding, he partnered with his long time friend, adventurer Jay Fiondella, from Santa Monica, California. They endeavored to create a non-profit organization and hoped to complete construction by the year 2000. News of foreign, particularly American financing, spurred the Greenlandic Government to action! They funded construction. Faber was immensely proud of his involvement, when Tjodhildes Church was featured on the cover of National Geographic Magazine, June 2010.
In 2004, the Illulissat Glacier, officially made it into the UNESCO World Heritage List, generating over $ 11 million a year in tourism for Greenland. The Viking Historical sites of Greenland, are still pending the enrollment in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Using his eclectic interests, expertise and knowledge of several languages, Faber has also become a respected adviser to a Greenlandic member of the Danish Parliament and continues to work for the well being of Greenlandic Inuit. Early in his long artistic career, the Danish Queen and her husband, who own at least one of his sculptures, visited one of Jonasie's art shows. Jonasie and the Prince corresponded for a number of years afterwards. In his seventieth year, Jonasie is one of the oldest working Inuit artists. In recent years his work has evolved into more sophisticated expressions of Inuit spirituality. It is now marketed exclusively through very few international art dealers in Canada, the USA and Europe.