Winter is the perfect time to see the next exhibition at The Gallery at the Rhodes Arts Center, for it showcases art by native peoples of the Arctic. “Inuit Carvings and Graphics” will be on display through Jan. 21.
Inuit artists today continue their 3,000-year-old tradition of carving in soapstone aspects of the natural world.
Wildlife plays a major role; owls, musk oxen, walruses, bears, caribou, whale, and the occasional narwhal are favorite themes. In this imaginative world, the bears and geese dance, and the spirit world is sometimes visible. A magical walrus/bear/narwhal is caught in the act of transformation. Lithographs capture an enraged caribou guarding its kill and a northern bird in fall plumage.
The exhibition also includes several carvings of Inuit adults and children. A counterpoint to those works is provided by prints of drawings by Henri Matisse. “He made many portraits of Inuit people,” says visual arts teacher Alex Braile. “They serve as an interesting comparison of how the Inuit people see themselves and how Matisse depicted them.
The works are exhibited at NMH in cooperation with Boston’s Pucker Gallery. A gallery description of an earlier exhibition of Inuit carvings noted, “The Inuit art of storytelling has endured since the prehistoric age. Every element and being in the Inuit world has its own story. Together, these stories tell how their chilly world came to be and explain how that Northern world works.”
The RAC gallery is open 10 am to 7 pm on weekdays and 1 to 5 pm on weekends.
Photo by Glenn Minshall