Shaman, c. 1989
caribou skull, bone, antler, fur, sinew, ivory, black inlay
61 x 31.5 x 31.5 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Tradition Fine Foods Ltd.
Nick Sikkuark is widely recognized as being one of the most innovative Inuit artists working today. In the early 1980s he began creating his mixed media sculptures, which have since influenced other Kitikmeot carvers to use imaginative combinations of materials in their work. By the late 1980s whale bone became his principal medium. There is often the suggestion of skeletons, exposed organs, and decay inherent in the organic materials themselves. The artist also employs contrasting surface qualities for dramatic effects. In this depiction of a shaman, the textured whale bone suggests fur clothing, while caribou antler creates the smoother forms of legs and hands. Fur accentuates the head, with its dramatic expression and wide mouth. The head itself has been formed from the actual skull of a caribou.