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.
Leevan Etok is certainly a “30 Artists to Know”. Although he has made a few wonderful sculptures in stone, he works mostly in caribou antler, as good carving stone is hard to find around Kangiqsualujjuaq. Leevan had the good fortune to have Daniel Annanack as a mentor, and, while his earlier works resemble those of Daniel, Leevan is quickly developing his own, unique style, characterized by clean, very detailed bas-relief work.
Some of his best carvings are of dog teams, which demonstrate that he really knows and understands that subject. Upon close observation you can see that he has very precisely rendered each of the individual planks of the qamutiik (sled). He has also done impressive hunting and family scenes, utilizing the natural shapes of the antler. Often Leevan will leave some of the original patina of the antler, creating a beautiful contrast between the natural and polished surfaces. His work incorporates traditional subject matter and themes, which he is able to expertly render with modern tools and techniques. In 2015, a carving by Leevan won second place in the Carving Contest organized by La Fédération des coopératives de Nouveau-Québec. My only problem with Leevan is that we would like to see more of his work! – Richard Murdoch
I started carving when I was 14 or 15 years old. Daniel Annanack was a professional artist who taught carving when I was in the Individual Paths for Learning program. I used to watch him, and I tried my best to make carvings. I started with caribou antler and made carvings of belugas and walruses. Daniel gave me three huskies, so I could have a dog team. I had to take care of them, so I made and sold my first carvings to buy their food.
Daniel told me about carving courses in other communities; I applied and was accepted to one in Akulivik, Nunavik, QC. The first day of the carving course, I got a Dremel and other tools I needed to become a carver. Daniel had many students, and I would help him teach carving. Later, I became a culture teacher at the school. I teach stone carving to students and they love it. I’d like to make a shack, so that I can teach people how to polish steatite. My wish is to help someone like Daniel helped me. I want to help my community, so I will try my best. – Leevan Etok
Murdoch is the Department Manager of Nunavik Art with La Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec (FCNQ). He began working at FCNQ in 1977, unpacking and tagging carvings and, eventually, pricing artwork and repairing damaged carvings. Murdoch has been a longtime subscriber and supporter of the IAQ.
These profiles appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.
30 Artists to Know Feature