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Currently shown
Abraham Anghik Ruben

Tree of Life

Artist

Abraham Anghik Ruben
Born in Paulatuk, Northwest Territories, in 1951

Title

Tree of Life

Date

1983

Materials

Steatite

Dimensions

240.7 x 64.5 x 56.5 cm

Credits

Gift of Lune Rouge, courtesy of Rio Tinto Alcan, inv. 2017.468

Collection

Quebec and Canadian Art

With Tree of Life—originally located in one of the lobbies of Maison Alcan in downtown Montreal—the artist aimed to create a monument. With its shape and impressive dimensions, the sculpture is similar to a West Coast totem pole, yet it differs in style, meaning and symbolism. While its title alludes to a Christian concept, it must not be taken literally, but metaphorically. In positioning the animal figures on the lower level of the work and the human figures higher, he is not attempting to establish a hierarchy between the two but suggests instead that the animal kingdom forms the basis of human culture, which is indebted to it. Tree of Life aptly embodies Ruben’s credo, which he declared to Darlene Coward Wight in 2001: “I have chosen to be a storyteller for my people, through the medium of sculpture.”

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