The Birth Of Eskimo Inuit Art Prints
by Clint Leung
Unlike Inuit sculpture, art prints from the Canadian Arctic
are a twentieth century innovation in Inuit Eskimo art.
One of the most significant events that happened during
the development of contemporary Inuit art was when Canadian
James Houston taught the Inuit to make art prints by incising
designs into linoleum tiles, stone blocks and stencils
from sealskins. He had previously studied printmaking
in Japan since the Japanese were considered innovators
in this art process.
One day in 1957, Houston met up with a local Inuit art
carver by the name of Osuitok Ipeelee in Cape Dorset.
Ipeelee had been studying the identical printed images
of a sailor's head on two cigarette packages he had. Houston
demonstrated the process of printmaking to the Inuit carver
by rubbing ink onto one of Ipeelee's ivory tusk carvings
and made an impression of it on a piece of toilet paper.
Upon seeing the resulting graphic, the Inuit artist said,
"We could do that." This resulted in the birth
of Eskimo Inuit art prints.
The Cape Dorset Inuit artists soon integrated the new
print making methods into their Inuit art and by 1960,
their printmaking was a growing business. Eskimo Inuit
art prints by early artists such as Pitseolak Ashoona
and Jamasie Teevee became much sought after artwork. Because
of the success of Cape Dorset, other Inuit communities
were encouraged to follow its example. So in addition
to Inuit sculpture, art prints became another form of
Eskimo Inuit art that found commercial success. Cape Dorset
has an annual release of Inuit art prints each year and
often sell out. Another Inuit community known for their
Inuit art prints is Holman.
About the Author
Clint Leung is owner of Free Spirit Gallery http://www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca
, an online gallery specializing in Inuit Eskimo and Northwest
Native American art including carvings, sculpture and
prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource
articles with photos of authentic Inuit and Native Indian
art as well as free eCards.