Nunali, c. 1988-1989
Canadian (Inuit), 1948
dark green stone, antler, sinew, bone, steel, and black inlay
113 x 73.6 x 95.4 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 41188)
As if echoing the thoughts of the caribou, an entire worldview, encompassing the living inhabitants of the tundra and sea, is contained within the graceful arcing forms of the full set of antlers. From the base to the tips, rising a meter above and along each of the branches, Jackoposie Oopakak has carved arctic animals and birds, including caribou, polar bears, and whales. Human activities are included as well: fishing, hunting by bow and arrow, cleaning skins, stretching boots, and travelling by dog-sled and kayak.
Antler is a medium fairly common in Inuit art, but a full pair of antlers is a rarity. Oopakak demonstrates extraordinary technical skill in his ability to carve figures in this friable material and his training in jewellery-making comes into play in the precise and intricate details.