I’ve been an artist in Ulukhaktok since 1981 or 1982, when I was asked to work on the Holman Annual Print Collection. I was part of a co-op of artists who taught me stencil printing. Now, stencil printing is something that comes naturally.
I come from a family that makes art. My youngest brother is also a printmaker, and my nephew works with woodcuts. I was influenced by hearing my father’s stories, by hearing him singing and by traveling on the land with him. Those stories come out in my art. I’m inspired by the animals on this side of the Beaufort Sea, and the amazing colours of the sky. Those are the things that make me feel good, and those are the things I create in my artwork.
People that live here teach the younger people out on the land summer camps and language camps, teaching hunting and making dry meat. That’s how my parents survived and how they taught me to do the same. I teach some classes at the school that help children learn different art techniques. When I teach young people, they ask questions about the things I depict and about the land – that seems silly to us, to older people. They just haven’t experienced it. Things have changed.
My art helps people understand our way of life here, a way of life that not everyone will be able to experience. Living in a remote community, food is expensive so our survival depends on the ability to hunt and trap on the land. Spending time on the land passing on traditional knowledge to the youth is needed to survive, also by putting it on paper in our art we pass it on. Even though I’ve been quite successful in the Inuit art world, there’s still more I’d like to learn. It’s always important to continue to push yourself and be inspired.