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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Inuit Art: Expressing Both Contemporary & Traditional Culture

Research shows that Inuit art dates back to ca. 1700 B.C., the Early Paleo-Eskimo era, with the discovery of an ivory maskette found on Devon Island in the Inglulingmuit Inuit region northeast of the Northwest Territories. However, what can be considered contemporary Inuit art dates back to the late 1940s, and while much of comtemporary Inuit art embraces traditional community values and traditions, a lot of their art conveys the individualistic experience of the artist, including many contemporary socio-economic issues. Furthermore, contemporary Inuit art has become an integral part of the Inuit community’s economy as a result of the Canadian government purchasing and selling it on a large scale.

Traditional Inuit life involved survival in a semi-nomadic society where men hunted and women tended to life at the camp. It has been noted that the Inuit lived in houses made of snow known commonly as igloos and hunted seals and whales, using their skins in order to make warm clothing and footwear. For entertainment the Inuit people told stories (which are greatly reflected in their visual arts), wrestled and played various hand and eye coordination type games in addition to singing and dancing. Additionally, Shamans were prevalent to traditional Inuit culture, serving as a link to the spiritual world. Shamans as well as ordinary tribesmen wore charms and amulets that were believed to be magical.

Inuit life began to rapidly change in the late 1940s through the 1950s. The Canadian government stepped in and established villages and towns for the Inuit that included missions, schools, medical stations, etc. Western culture has since set in. The Inuit people have incorporated western clothing, and rock and roll music can be heard in many of their communities. As a result, the new settled life of the Inuit is in stark contrast to their traditional semi-nomadic society, and many of the social problems associated with western culture now infiltrate the Inuit community. Problems such as welfare, domestic violence, alcohol & drugs, teenage pregnancy, etc. affect the Inuit community and collectively blend with traditional undertones in much of contemporary Inuit art. Overall, p
roducing art has allowed much of the Inuit community to live a semi-traditional lifestyle with some Inuit artists working full-time while others do it on the side for supplemental income.

Various Inuit stone sculptures, illustrated in the images above can be found at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. and have been researched by our staff.

-MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.

Works Cited & Further Reading:

Hessel, Ingo. Inuit Art. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 1998.

Leroux, Odette, ed. Inuit Women Artist. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 1994.

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    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.