Canadian and British edition

Canadian and British edition published
by Douglas and McIntyre, Vancouver and
British Museum Press, London

American edition

American edition published by
Harry N. Abrams, New York

 

Inuit Art

My involvement with Inuit (Canadian Eskimo) art is now over twenty years old. In 1983, inspired by the Art Gallery of Ontario exhibition Grasp Tight the Old Ways, I began studying Inuit art at Carleton University in Ottawa. That same year I started working at the Inuit Art Section in the Canadian government’s Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, first as a volunteer researcher, and finally as Special Projects Officer and Coordinator. Some of the projects I have been involved in include: authoring Canadian Inuit Sculpture, an educational booklet translated into eight languages; curating several exhibitions, such as Arviat Stone Sculpture and Stories in Stone; producing the video Keeping Our Stories Alive: the Sculpture of Canada’s Inuit; teaching courses in Inuit art at the University of Ottawa; and working with Inuit artists, co-operatives, wholesalers, museums and galleries, retail galleries, researchers, magazine and book publishers and others to advance the study and appreciation of one of Canada’s premiere art forms. Over the years I have visited the Canadian Arctic close to twenty times, travelling most often to the Keewatin region, an area of special interest to me.

In 1997 I took a leave of absence from my position with the Inuit Art Section to work on Inuit Art: An Introduction, a general introduction to Inuit sculpture, graphics and textile arts published by Douglas and McIntyre in Canada, Harry N. Abrams in the U.S. and the British Museum Press in the U.K. In 1998 I resigned from the civil service to devote myself to my own art and private Inuit art consulting. Currently I am working with the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona to produce a major travelling exhibition featuring 140 works from the Albrecht Arctic Art Collection. The exhibition will tour ten cities in the U.S. from 2006 to 2009 and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

It was my involvement with Inuit art and artists that led to my becoming an artist. After having organized and attended many workshops featuring Inuit sculptors, in 1990 I decided to try my hand at carving in order to further understand and appreciate the working methods and challenges of the artists. What began as professional curiosity and grew into a serious hobby soon blossomed into a passion, and I decided to devote myself to art-making full-time in 1998.

While my own work is essentially abstract and not related thematically to Inuit art at all, I feel that I have been influenced to some extent by Inuit working methods, sensibilities and respect for the material. I feel a special affinity to the sculptors of Arviat, and have formed close friendships with many of its important artists over the years. The work of Lucy Tasseor, for example, has been an important influence on my own style (just as the sculptures of Isamu Noguchi and Henry Moore have been). Ironically, however, just as the majority of Inuit artists have embraced the use of power tools over the past decade, I have made a conscious decision to work only with hand tools.

For a signed, personalized copy of “Inuit Art: An Introduction” please contact me. 208 pages, 120 colour, 35 b&w photos, soft cover. $35.00 US plus postage. Other Inuit art books and catalogues are available to collectors as well.

Please click here to learn more about Ingo Hessel’s sculptures, paintings and works on paper.

 

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