Canadian (Inuit), 1962
moose antler, caribou antler, and bear claw
38.5 x 54 x 36.3 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 40569)
An emerging artist from Paulatuk, Northwest Territories, Robert Kuptana brings an Inuvaluit perspective to this sculpture depicting a malicious female trickster spirit known as Koatok. According to this western-Arctic story, Koatok uses her transformational powers to lure hunters into unfamiliar territory, then leaves them stranded. Shown here in the process of becoming an owl with outspread wings (on the underside, the woman's breasts become the bird's eyes), Koatok is being attacked by a weasel. Because this little animal is quick-moving and grounded to the earth, it tries to capture the spirit by biting her- and thereby prevent her from flying off to do her mischief.