Luke Iksiktaaryuk’s print shows a dance in a qaggiq, a type of large igloo used for communal celebrations and performances during the winter months. It also includes some of the trademark visual characteristics of Baker Lake graphic art. In terms of composition, concept and pattern take precedence over realism as the female form is duplicated and multiplied around the male form at centre. The double row of snow blocks, indicating the qaggiq’s walls, is depicted as if viewed from above, while the figures are shown facing forward. This fusion of spatial perspectives is characteristic of early Baker Lake art.
An Ancient Way of Dancing was created during the first years of the Sanavik Co-operative. Founded in Baker Lake in 1969 with the help of American artists Sheila and Jack Butler, who had been brought in by the Canadian government to revive the community’s abandoned printmaking program, the Co-operative gained success from the start. Baker Lake graphic arts steadily flourished for several years before a tragic fire levelled the Co-operative building in 1977. The fire, combined with an economic recession, was a heavy blow to printmaking in Baker Lake, which never fully recovered.