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Arctic Journeys/Ancient Memories: Inuit Sculptor Abraham Anghik Ruben

A story about work of Inuit sculptor Abraham Anghik Ruben, Arctic Journeys/Ancient Memories, opening at the Art Gallery of Algoma in Ontario on June 6.
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Beginning June 6 the first Canadian venue will host Arctic Journeys/Ancient Memories, the exhibition of work by Inuit sculptor Abraham Anghik Ruben. 

The Art Gallery of Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, will display the exhibit, featuring some 20 masterfully carved sculptures in bone, stone, ivory and bronze from private and public collections, until September 8. This exhibition offers the opportunity to view what has been one of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian's most successful exhibitions to-date, attracting more than 500,000 visitors.

Daniel Dabrowski, Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

Abraham Anghik Ruben Inuvialuit, b. 1951) Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, 2010 Whale skull, Brazilian soapstone, and cedar; 176.0 x 207.0 x 62.0 cm; Collection of Kipling Gallery, Ontario, Canada

Ruben grew up in Paulatuk in Canada’s Northwest Territories amongst a family of storytellers. His maternal great-grandparents, who worked in the commercial whaling industry, had been respected for their shamanic abilities. A wealth of cultural legends and beliefs were passed down to the children.

Ruben would draw on these oral histories; coupled with an interest in Norse mythology that was sparked by a circumpolar conference he attended in Irkutsk, Russia to result in the mixed stylization that he employs in his carvings.

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In Arctic Journeys/Ancient Memories Ruben attempts to tell stories of contact between of the ancient Inuit and Viking Norse from a thousand years ago. Although there is little archeological record of this interaction, the artist uses the common practice of shamanism by these two circumpolar societies to transcend the cultural and geographical divides. The shaman serves as prophet and leader to the respective communities and is a central figure throughout his work. 

This leadership is of significance today as the peoples of the Polar Regions face challenges in a changing environment. Ruben’s work is especially poignant as he uses ancient myths and legends in a contemporary fashion to convey his present feelings and concern.

The artist will be in attendance for the opening on June 6 during a celebration beginning at 7 p.m. 

To learn more about the exhibit and the gallery, go to

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Inuit Sculpture Featured at the National Museum of the American Indian