Carving has benefitted me in more ways than one. I think carving is important and my opinion is that young people should be encouraged to become carvers.”
Born to Mary and Isah Sivuarapik (Sheeg) at a camp outside of Puvirnituq in 1949, Joshua Sivuarapik came from a long line of carvers. His father, cousin (Thomassiapik Sivuarapik), and his uncle (Charlie Sivuarapik) are all well-known artists, as is his sister-in-law Lizzie.
Sivuarapik began carving at the age of 14 and consistently produced work for over four decades.
Widely known as a sculptor, Sivuarapik was also involved with various aspects of film-making. He worked as an extra in the 1992 film Shadow of the Wolf and also had aspirations of producing his own film, which would tell the “true story of Quananack, a young Inuk who survived the slaughter of his village by a madman” (Sinclair 2004: 72).
Heavily involved with the creative and managerial aspects of artmaking, Sivuarapik carved for enjoyment, but also saw carving as an additional way to generate revenue, remarking that his carving skills “come in handy when I’m experiencing difficult times.”
As a former director of the Cooperative Association of Puvirnituq (1980-88), Sivuarapik also worked to promote Inuit art and culture through his capacity as a community leader and through his involvement with the Saputik Museum in Puvirnituq, which was established in 1978 by Taamusi Qumaq Novalinga.
Concentrating mainly on naturalistic depictions of wildlife, Sivuarapik was especially fond of carving birds. Fluidly-portrayed loons, geese, and falcons appear regularly in his work, as do carvings of marine life. The human figure is also occasionally represented in his sculpture and is rendered in the same graceful — albeit realistic — manner.
One of a handful of artists chosen to represent Puvirnituq at the Canadian Pavilion at Expo ’67, Sivuarapik has long since been an ambassador for the art of Puvirnituq. His own artwork has been exhibited on an international level and has been shown as far away as Tokyo. In 1982 his work was also featured in the World’s Fair, which travelled to Knoxville, Tennessee, Chicago, Boston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and New York. Most recently, as director of the Saputik Museum, Sivuarapik was invited to the Museum of Natural History in Lyon, France in 2003, to attend talks and to conduct public carving demonstrations.
Although Sivuarapik’s first carving was of a simple seal, his work became much more skilful as he developed as an artist. His work from the 1990s is particularly accomplished, often featuring elegantly-rendered birds and an advanced manipulation of negative space.
Actively involved in the arts for over 40 years, Sivuarapik’s sculptures have been featured in various solo exhibitions and in over 20 group exhibitions. His work is included in collections at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Eskimo Museum in Churchill, Manitoba, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the National Gallery of Canada, to name a few.
2004 “Joshua Sivuarapik: Framing a Moving Picture,” Inuit Art Quarterly (IAQ), vol.19, no. 3&4 (Fall/Winter): 72.
1997 Inuit Art Section. Gatineau: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.