Abraham Anghik Ruben
Canadian, b. 1951
Spirits of the Great Hunt, 1998–1999
116 x 75 x 32 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Tradition Fine Foods Ltd.
The artist’s early years were spent with his family in hunting camps near Paulatuk in the Western Arctic. In 1972 he studied at the Native Arts Center at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, and by 1975 he decided to pursue a career as an artist. Ruben often uses Brazilian soapstone to create his sculptures. In this large work an Inuit shaman sings and beats his drum to communicate with his spirit helper, an eagle that rises up behind him. Within the breast of the eagle is the shaman’s apprentice in a semi-fetal position. Underneath these figures, game animals and a hunter with snow goggles represent the hunting life of the Arctic. At times the shaman must summon his or her spirit helpers to help find game for the community to avoid starvation.