“One time a group of singers came to the community. My daughter was watching me as I was carving. She asked me if carving a sculpture was the same as singing. I replied, “Yes, it is.”
– Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok in an interview with Ingo Hessel in 1989
Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok’s sculptures are best known for their distinctively minimal construction. A defining presence in Northern art, she helped develop a more abstract and elemental school of sculptural expression.
As the daughter of the Eskimo Point carver Rachel Ottuk, Tasseor Tutsweetok was exposed to sculpture at an early age. She began using an axe as her tool of choice, as the local stone, steatite, was harder than traditional native carving tools could handle. Working alongside artists Andy Miki, John Panaruk, and Elizabeth Nutaluk, Tasseor Tutsweetok helped establish the highly distinctive abstract expressionistic sculpting technique characterized by directness in style and unique to the native art community. Her works deal mainly with domestic subjects, familial groups represented by clusters of faces that come through the natural shape of the rock. Sometimes Tasseor Tutsweetok used incised lines to add motifs to the surface of her sculptures.
Sculptures such as the National Gallery of Canada’s Inuit, Itqiliit, Unaliit amma Qablunaat (1991), which was featured in the Museum of Civilization’s “Indigens” exhibition in 1991, achieve her goal to create monumental work. Tasseor Tutsweetok taught her daughter to carve, as she only trusted family to continue carving in her unique style, reflecting the relationship between the Inuit and their land.
Photo: Ingo Hessel
Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok
Born in Nunalla, Manitoba, 1934
Died Canada: Nunavut, Arviat, 12 April 2012
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