Traveling art exhibit explores Inuit culture through unique art style

Jesse Westbrook
April 21, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new traveling art exhibit is on display in the Fletcher L. Byrom Earth and Mineral Sciences Library in 105 Deike Building on the University Park campus. The exhibit, "Inuit Visions of the Arctic," is presented by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) Museum & Art Gallery. The exhibit was created by the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset, a small island village located within the Nunavut territory, originally part of the Northwest Territories in Canada but loaned to EMS by Judith Varney Burch of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Through nine prints that compose the exhibit, Inuit artists depict many facets of Inuit culture in the mid-20th century. The images portray the various daily routines of Inuit culture, such as camping and hunting, as well as specific animals, like caribou and polar bears.

The Inuit are groups of people that inhabit small, remote communities along the coasts of Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Siberia, and they maintain strong physical and spiritual bonds with nature.

The collection showcases the Inuit artists’ unique art styles.

“One of the Inuit’s native art styles was carving on surfaces like bone and soft rock. Over time, they then adapted them into the three flat styles used for these prints: stonecut, lithography and stenciling,” said Julianne Snider, assistant director of the EMS Museum & Art Gallery.

Stonecut is performed by carving an image on the surface of a soft stone such as serpentine, lithography employs the use of a printing plate and stenciling uses stencil brushes and cutouts.

The exhibit holds importance within both the scientific and the artistic communities.

“The polar regions where the Inuit live are some of the most severely affected by climate change,” said Russ Graham, director of the EMS Museum & Art Gallery. “Their life ways are changing radically as the sea ice is melting and causing coastal erosion of settlements due to rising temperatures.”

The Inuit exhibit complements another display in the art gallery, located on the ground floor of the Deike Building, that explores the effects of rising sea levels on indigenous cultures.

The Inuit art exhibit will be on display in the library until December 2016. Please see the library’s website for hours.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 21, 2016