John Sabourin

North Slave

Artist Story

I have always had an interest in working in the three dimensional realm, but growing up in Fort Simpson there were no carvers to influence me. I drew all the time when I was young and a friend introduced me to painting when I was twenty. I studied painting at the Victoria College of Art and had the opportunity to try sculpture. It was at that point I knew what direction I wanted to take my art.

In 1995, Aurora College offered a three-month art course in my hometown. Master carver Bill Nasogaluak asked if I would like to try stone carving. I jumped at the chance. I have been carving ever since. For the first three and a half years of carving, I did nothing but work with hand tools. I really wanted to learn the whole technique by hand and get the right feel for the stone. Even now, it is so important to me to finish a carving by hand.

I think I am still finding out who I am as an artist. My carvings and style are constantly evolving. I like being outside just looking for the contours in the natural world. My art is heavily influenced by the images of the Northwest Territories – our legends, stories and animals. My inspiration in part comes from my background in painting. My carvings have a free flowing and meandering line that represents my connection to the northern lights and the spirit of the North. 

Artist Bio: 

John Sabourin is an acclaimed multi-disciplinary artist originally from Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories. He began painting acrylics in 1989 and in 10 short years, graduated from the Fine Arts course at Arctic College and the Victoria College of Art in British Columbia. 

Around 1994, John started carving with soapstone. For the first several years, he worked exclusively with hand tools, cultivating his technique and feel for the stone. Although he now uses power tools, he still finishes each piece off by hand.

John’s art is heavily influenced by the rich imagery of the Northwest Territories – its legends, stories and animals. His carvings have a free flowing and meandering line that represent his connection to the Aurora and the spirit of the North.  John has enjoyed a successful career and has been involved with many collaborative projects in both Canada and overseas.

Working from Frozen Rock Studios in Yellowknife, John is represented by The Inuit Galley of Vancouver (Vancouver, BC), The Guild Shop (Toronto, ON), Bear Claw Gallery (Edmonton, AB) and Arctic Artistry Gallery (New York City, NY).

Last Updated: May 15, 2024

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