Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Norse Voyages and Inuit Mythology Merge in Contemporary Art Exhibition

Inuvialuit Sculptor Abraham Anghik Ruben Showcases Works of Stone and Bronze

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presents “Arctic Journeys/ Ancient Memories: The Sculpture of Abraham Anghik Ruben,” an exhibition that explores parallels between the ancient arctic cultures of the Viking/Norse and Inuit through bold sculptures of stone, bronze and bone. The exhibition opens Friday, Oct. 5, in Washington, D.C., in the museum’s Sealaska Gallery and will be on view through Jan. 2, 2013. It is presented in conjunction with the 18th Inuit Studies Conference, Oct. 24-28, in Washington, D.C.

As a master sculptor of Inuvialuit (Inuit) descent, Ruben contrasts these two northern seafaring peoples by weaving together elements from each culture’s history and mythological landscape. Norse sagas about Odin, the god of war, and Thor, the god of thunder, converge with Inuit beliefs about Sedna, the guardian of sea animals, shamanism and Inuit spiritual life, to explore a shared Arctic history of maritime exploration, migration and cultural change.

For Ruben, these ancient voices are not so distant. Born in 1951 in a camp near Paulatuk (“place of coal”), he spent his early childhood traveling with his family across vast expanses of land and sea, hunting caribou, polar bear, musk-oxen and beluga whales, and “living to the ancient rhythms of life passed down through the generations.” This traditional upbringing forged cultural and spiritual ties to his Inuvialuit ancestors and the Arctic environment. He draws from this not-so-distant past by working in stone and whalebone–natural materials used by ancient hunting, whaling and seafaring families throughout the region to create the kayaks, umiaks, hunting equipment and domestic tools needed to survive. Ruben’s sculpture “Memories: An Ancient Past,” one of 23 works in the exhibition, showcases a massive whale skull that his nephew discovered just 30 miles up the coast from Paulatuk.

For more information on the 18th Inuit Studies Conference, visit;

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SOURCE The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

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