In my first-time wanderings through the magnificent Museum of Fine Arts in Boston this past August, I stumbled upon a small, tucked away, single-room exhibit of Inuit prints. It was like finding the gold coin in an already delicious cake. The exhibit, entitled, Follow The North Star, is made up of a selection of prints from the collection of Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh and is up through Dec. 31st, 2017.
What struck me first about this work was the dreamlike quality of the prints. Many of the animal forms seemed to float in the emptiness of the background which pointed to their more symbolic nature. The print shown above, Three Young Owls, (1976) by Lucy Qinnuayuak, certainly has that feeling. Owls figure prominently in this exhibit, which I just love.
Here is Summer Owl, (1975) by Kenojuak Ashevak.
And one of my favorites, both for its beautiful rendering and its humor, Owl Incognito, (2008) by Ohotaq Mikkigak.
Whether or not this print was meant to be humorous, it gave me a chuckle to see what looks to be a loon and a hawk sharing a ride in a canoe. It’s entitled, Spring Travelers, (1976) by Pudlo Pudlat.
The story-telling aspect of many of these prints is evident in this one, The Story of a Man Who Lost All His Flesh, (1973) by Lucy Meeko.
Food Provider, (2005) by Germaine Arnaktauyok depicts the Sea Goddess, Sedna, who needs to be placated by hunters in case she decides to freeze the sea, preventing life-sustaining fish from being harvested.
School of Fish (1996) by Kenojuak Ashevak is evidence of how important fish and fishing are to Inuit culture.
My Ancestors Were Here, (1992) by Mary Okheena is a lovely homage to the Inuit way of life, in appreciation of all that came before. It’s great how she chose to stack each layer like a sedimentary timeline.
I’ll end with this tongue-in-cheek, anthropomorphized fish-person by Jessie Oonark, entitled, Pipe Dreams (1985). Oonark created this print the year that she died.
So if you find yourself in Boston between now and the end of the year, I recommend a visit to MFA Boston.