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indigenous art history, Inuit arts and culture, Inuit sculpture, Canadian art history, Canadian indigenous relations, Canadian Arctic, Cape Dorset art

Inuit Arts and Crafts: History for the Future
by Ken Crassweller

This is your invitation to find how, during the 1960s and 70s, a settler’s perspective shaped his view of what happened from his firsthand experiences, what he learned and what he did for better or worse. Then, reading on, learn how government worked in tandem with the Eastern Arctic Inuit, exploring and experimenting to enhance Inuit arts and crafts for cultural survival. Find here an account of Inuit using the limited Arctic gifts of stone, clay, bone, eiderdown, and skins. Then judge for yourself whether working together will achieve the common goal to maintain Inuit culture where their language is made visible through their arts Find here a challenge to accept that if Inuit arts and crafts fades away, so also will their unique culture. Read that this need not be! Find within a bold proposal “SEE” to accept that Inuit art/crafts, is not static, nor swallowed up in settlers ‘ways, but celebrated as Inuit resilience to change without identity loss. Meet project Ookpik. Read about Inuit survival tools, later appreciated as true art. Learn how they make carvings, and prints. Discover the use of design continuum, carving evaluation, life themes, and game drawing Engage in some humous, and a look at life in an Inuit wholistic way.

The author was born in in Regina, Saskatchewan, climbed poles for a telephone company, worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company fur trade, once operated an HBC camp trade, taught indigenous children in northern Manitoba, Quebec, and on Ellesmere Island, Northwest Territories. Later he served and worked with the Inuit artists an crafts makers for ten years while employed by the Federal and NWT governments in Fort Chimo, PQ, Frobisher Bay, Yellowknife, and Ottawa. Over those years he traveled the Arctic, learning and sharing in programs providing material, financial, and technical assistance to Inuit artists and artisans, He earned a BEd in Art Education, and an MA in Community and Regional Planning with an emphasis on Arctic Settlements. His philosophy was shaped by his appreciation of Inuit demonstrating Humanity, Humility, and Humour, and Anton Chekhov, the playwright’s theme: Life goes on regardless of adversity, so Persevere, live life to the full!” even though life is beautiful, but absurd.


Ken Crassweller

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