Although much of the early work from Nunavik is in important collections, the contemporary work is not as much in evidence. In his editorial, “All It Takes Is Knowledge, Money, and Time,” (Inuit Art Quarterly [IAQ], vol. 13, no. 3 [Fall/1998]:3), Mattiusi Iyaituk attributes this to the fact that young people are not taking up carving as an occupation because of the difficulties they have amassing enough capital – for equipment and expenses – to get to the quarry sites for stone, and because they do not have the knowledge to travel on the land. It may also have to do with a marketing system that favours the production of souvenir quality work – technically accomplished and some of it displaying a beguiling humour – rather than what used to be called “fine art.”
It just may be that carving is no longer as central to the rhythm of Inuit life as it was in the not-so-distant past…
Stepping back from immediate concerns and priorities, it just may be that carving is no longer as central to the rhythm of Inuit life as it was in the not-so-distant past when there were few other options than to hunt or carve, the latter encouraged by various agencies – the missions, trading posts, governments and co-ops – as a way for Inuit to support themselves. It is no longer the case that whole villages are supported through the proceeds of carving.
Although jobs remain scarce, Inuit now have more choices, a change that can only be welcomed. Not only does it relieve the pressure on people to take up an occupation for which they have little interest or talent, but it also opens the way for those who do.
This is an excerpt from “Making Art in Nunavik: A Brief Historical Overview,” by Marybelle Mitchell, published in Inuit Art Quarterly (IAQ), vol. 13, no. 3 (Fall):16
Iyaituk, Mattiusi, 1998 “All It Takes Is Knowledge, Money, and Time,” Inuit Art Quarterly (IAQ), vol. 13, no. 3 (Fall):3