Qaqaq (Kaka) Ashoona, Female shaman with walrus helping spirit, Before 1973
25 x 13 x 5 in.
This is an early work by Qaqaq (Kaka) Ashoona. The figure's bared teeth were a hallmark of early work by Qaqaq, a feature that appears in very few other artist's work. The flowing braids and large hands prefigure his later works. (See the Sedna by Qaqaq, whose hands, carved about 20 years later, are almost identical to those of this figure.) In addition, the majestic woman has a small walrus -- a helping spirit -- perched on top of her head, telling us that she was a shaman.
Qaqaq was a first-generation artist from Ikirasak, an outpost camp on South Baffin Island, NU who became based out of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. Qaqaq maintained a traditional lifestyle on the land while simultaneously producing a substantial artistic legacy and though a prolific carver, Qaqaq self-identified as a hunter. Preferring to remain away from town Qaqaq would travel seasonally to Kinngait to sell his carvings and would occasionally live in the community.
Qaqaq's method is notable in that he only ever used hand-carving tools to produce his pieces, expressing a fear of injuring himself with electric tools. The hallmark of his sculpture is the combination of heavy, compact and free flowing forms. Qaqaq stated that although human faces are harder to carve he was drawn to sculpting them more often than animals.
Qaqaq's work has exhibited nationally and internationally. In April of 1973 his first solo exhibition, Sculpture by Kaka of Cape Dorset was held at Gallery of the Arctic in Victoria, BC. His work is housed in numerous major collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON Winnipeg Art Gallery, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal and the Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, QC.
Qaqaq (Kaka) Ashoona | Female shaman with walrus helping spirit | Before 1973 | Alaska on Madison
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