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Contemporary Inuit Sculpture

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Manasie Akpaliapik, Qalupiluk, 1991, and Kiawak Ashoona, Bird Creature, 1990

Monsters and beings with exceptional powers are mysterious subjects that have been kept alive through legends and, more recently, through the work of artists who bring them to life in stone. The beady eyes, crouched position and dark colour make Qalupiluk, by Manasie Akpaliapik, and Bird Creature, by Kiawak Ashoona, seem threatening. However, there is something disturbingly calm about Akpaliapik's sea monster, with its interlocked fingers resting on its knees and the hood of its amautik laden with three children who ventured too close to the ice floes. The artist has illustrated a quiet moment in the story by depicting a satisfied monster that waited patiently for the children to arrive at the edge of the ice and then grabbed them. Patience does not appear to be a virtue for Ashoona's bird creature. The aggressiveness of its hand gestures and the position of its legs clearly warn us to stay away. Unlike Akpaliapik, who depicts the calm after the storm, Ashoona thrusts us directly into the eye of the storm.