From July 17, 2022, through January 8, 2023, “Arctic Artistry” will explore the evolving roles of Indigenous artists of the North American Arctic through 20 rarely shown objects from the Baltimore Museum of Art’s collection. Artists are esteemed among the Yup’ik, Iñupiaq, and Inuit people, and their work has continually responded to and reflected the needs of their changing communities.
Historically, Indigenous artists who lived in the Arctic lands created ritualistic and utilitarian objects whose beauty was meant to honor the beings that sustained life in the harsh climate. As an influx of explorers, missionaries, whalers, and gold prospectors arrived to their lands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Indigenous artists became vital economic forces that sustained their communities by producing art, including model kayaks and cribbage boards made for sale to non-Native markets.
By the mid-20th century, Canadian Inuit artists began carving animal sculptures and producing prints in collaborative workshop settings, such as Summer Caribou Hunt (1960) by Kiakshuk and Searching for Seal Holes (1960) by Innukjuakju Pudlat, which the Baltimore Museum of Art acquired from the esteemed Kinngait Co-operative (also known as the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative) in 1961.
Later Artic artistry spoke to both internal and external audiences, dancing between the traditional, the functional, and the commercial. Examples include Judas Ullulaq’s sculpture The Caribou Hunter (c. 1970s) and Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq’s wall hanging Frightened by the Land Spirits (c. 1994). Both artists have been featured in museums and galleries far beyond the Arctic.
The most contemporary work in the “Arctic Artistry” show is Three Thousand (2017), a loan of a 14-minute video by Canadian Inuit artist asinnajaq that weaves together archival footage from the National Film Board of Canada with original animation to reveal 100 years of colonization within the Inuit Nunangat (Inuktitut for “homeland”).
This exhibition is curated by Darienne Turner, Assistant Curator for Indigenous Art of the Americas.
About the Baltimore Museum of Art
Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 95,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds.
The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market.
General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.