The Canadian Art Database

Karoo Ashevakk

Born in 1940 in an encampment near Talurqjuaq [Taloyoak/Spence Bay] in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut, Karoo Ashevak lived life on the land, following the traditional hunting lifestyle, until he moved to Talurqjuaq in 1960. Ashevak is noted for the unique exploration of his private world of dreams and Inuit shamanism in his mixed media sculpture. His playful, experimental approach encompasses a large visual métier - animation and humour - are vital elements in his carvings of spirits, shamans, arctic wildlife and human figures. Using primarily whalebone the artist also incorporates stone and ivory, caribou antler and baleen as inlaid detail or additional components.

During his short career he achieved special status within his community, and nearby Uqsuqtuq [Gjoa Haven], influencing an entire generation of Kitikmeot artists. Well known within Canada and the United States, Karoo Ashevak has had solo exhibitions in Toronto, Montreal and New York. The 1973 exhibition at the American Indian Arts Centre in New York City marked the height of his career, and the 1994 exhibition at the National Gallery in Ottawa signifies the continuing importance of his work in the context of contemporary Canadian art.

Karoo Ashevak died in October 1974 in a house fire at the age of thirty-four.

The Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art
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