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Ohito Ashoona

Arts and Culture (2002)

Dynamic, powerful, and energetic are word that describe the work of Nunavut carver Ohito Ashoona. Words, however, will never do his carvings justice. Only when you behold the tenderness between a mother polar bear and her cub as created by Mr. Ashoona’s hands and mind; or, watch cold serpentine stone evoke the warmth and caring this artist has watched and then brought forth from his Arctic home and culture, can his skill be truly felt. Born amidst the splendour and mystery of Nunavut, Mr. Ashoona watched his father carve. By his early teens, his destiny was set: he would be a carver and sculptor like his father, grandmother and others that had gone before him. Now, at age 49, the Cape Dorset man has become one of the world’s premiere Inuit artists. “We treasure his work as Canada should treasure him,” one of his many fans writes. Mr. Ashoona’s sculpture, Shaman Drawing Power from the Polar Bear, was chosen to illustrate the invitations to a world-class Inuit art exhibition at Chicago’s Greater Lafayette Museum of Art in 2000. He has also created sculptures to honour the winners at both the Vancouver and Toronto Molson Indy. Among those who own his works are Yoko Ono, NHL players and more. Collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council Art Bank and the Winnipeg Art Gallery proudly display Mr. Ashoona’s work. Completely dedicated to his Inuit roots, Mr. Ashoona, a licensed outfitting guide, still lives a traditional Inuit lifestyle of hunting and fishing at an outpost camp on the barrens.