CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 8 . . . . December 7, 2007
Six Inuit artists are presented in this striking book which focuses on their pieces collected by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Ontario. Each chapter includes a brief bibliography of the artists Oviloo Tunnillie, Joe Talirunili, Jessie Oonark, Lukta Qiatsuk, David Ruben Piqoutkun and Kenojuak Ashevak, followed by information about their particular art form and photographs. The authors, curators at the museum, have included welcome background information for the young reader about the life styles, cultures and materials used to create these works of art. Unfortunately, although it is part of the subtitle, what are not provided in a satisfactory manner are the stories themselves.
After receiving this book to review, I was fortunate to be able to make my way to the museum and savour these works for myself. This personal connection is what is missing from this book, and, if the stories were truly part of the telling, it may well have been available for the reader without having to make the journey. The excerpt above is an example of the story the authors told regarding Tunnillie's sculpture "Woman Quarrying Stone." They followed this with encyclopedia-type entries on "Korok Inlet Serpentinite" (the soapstone used for this piece), "Quarrying," "Carving," "Kinngait (Cape Dorset)," "E7-779," "The North," "A Note about Place Names," and "Tuberculosis." In subsequent chapters, information is provided about mythical creatures who are the focus of the artists' creation and concise bits of the traditional stories that may have influenced the artists but unfortunately, not enough to satisfy.
Also included is a map of Canada which indicates, pictorially, the location of the creators of the six works of art, and brief selected bibliography.
Gail de Vos, an adjunct professor at the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, teaches classes on Canadian children's literature, young adult literature and storytelling.
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