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Mattiusi Iyaituk

My Mother Talks about Caribou

Artist

Mattiusi Iyaituk
Born in Cape Smith, Nunavik, in 1950

Title

My Mother Talks about Caribou

Date

2005

Materials

Serpentine, caribou antler

Dimensions

55.5 x 53 x 41 cm

Credits

Purchase, the Canada Council for the Arts' Acquisition Assistance Program and the Serge Desroches Bequest, inv. 2006.78.1-3

Collection

Quebec and Canadian Art

Inspired by his brother who sculpted with soapstone, Nunavik artist Mattiusi Iyaituk began carving at the age of fourteen, first developing themes related to Inuit life and then exploring more abstract forms. My Mother Talks about Caribou depicts the artist’s blind mother, Lucy, as she describes the savoury taste of caribou meat, then scarce, to her son. Iyaituk was raised traditionally, living in an igloo and tent in Cape Smith until his family was driven from their home by famine and moved to Akulivik. The autobiographical component of this work is testimony to the harshness of life in the Far North. The caribou has been a staple of Inuit subsistence for millennia, along with other food-source animals, such as seal and narwhal. According to the artist, the antlers used for the arms can be seen as a reference to Lucy’s eloquent and powerful gestures. The sculpture also illustrates body transformation and the practice of Inuit shamanism: as the woman gesticulates to describe the caribou, her outstretched arms transmute into the animal. DUP 1

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