For our 30th anniversary issue, the IAQ asked 15 leading figures in Inuit art to nominate an early-career artist to watch. In turn, those artists selected a senior talent who has inspired them. The result is “30 Artists to Know”, an expansive portfolio exploring the intergenerational, familial and community-based bonds that are made visible through art.
Daniel Shimout is a professional, full-time carver who is very passionate about his art. I have known him for over 25 years now and I have watched him grow and develop his skills. I have pushed him, because I know what he is capable of.
Long ago, he mastered carvings of boats and small ivory pieces, but lately his work has taken on more spiritual themes of Sednas and shamans. Daniel’s work is not about size, but rather is amazing for its fine details and his meticulous execution. Many of his figures have delicately rendered teeth and fingernails, and wear incredibly detailed clothing with buttons and belts even when they stand only a few centimetres tall.
I like to see artists grow and step outside of their comfort zone by trying different things. Daniel has proved to be incredibly versatile, incorporating stone, ivory, baleen, antler and bone in his carvings. Many artists have incredible potential, but sometimes just need a push. He is one of the artists that I have worked to mentor, but he has truly done it on his own. He has it in him. – RJ Ramrattan
Making carvings is in my family. My grandfather Joseph Saimut was a carver, but he died before I was born. My father, Arnakallak Saimut, used to carve and my brother-in-law, Leo Napayok, and my cousin, Leo Angotingoer, are also good artists.
My father carved with files and hand tools, not the Dremels and electric tools that I use. Sometimes I use hand tools and think of my father. I watched him carve as a child, but it didn’t catch on until I was a teenager, maybe 16 years old or so. I had been trying to find my father’s work since he passed away in 1996. It wasn’t until I came to Winnipeg, MB, in June 2017 that I finally saw one of his carvings in the vault at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. They have works by my grandpa, my aunt, my uncle and my father. My grandfather made mermaids; I used to be shy about making mermaids, but I am going to make more now after finally seeing my grandpa’s work. I didn’t expect to see my father’s work, and I got a little emotional. It’s in our blood. – Daniel Shimout
Ramrattan is the Manager at Canadian Arctic Producers, where, for over twenty years, he has worked closely with Inuit artists to support their individual development. In the spring of 2016, Ramrattan collaborated with the Quarterly to produce a lush photo essay on artist Uriash Puqiqnak, based in Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven), NU.
These profiles appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.
30 Artists to Know Feature