Hunters Journey Abraham Anghik Ruben

Brazilian Soapstone
23 × 40.5 × 11 inches
58.4 × 102.9 × 27.9 cm
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Sculpted in Brazilian soapstone, hunters dressed against the cold are on a journey in a long boat that is swept upwards by three sea creatures including the goddess Sedna. Sedna, who provides bounty to deserving hunters, guides and supports the crew. Implied by the faces and bodies of each figure is a growing awareness of success in their hunt. At the stern is the umialik who was responsible for building the boat and training the crew to hunt beluga and bowhead whales. He wears a raven's crest hat, a symbol of spiritual power. This work was exhibited in Arctic Journeys, Ancient Memories: Sculpture by Abraham Anghik Ruben organized by the Smithsonian Institution, Arctic Studies Center in 2012. Ruben was born in 1951 in a camp south of Paulatuk, Northwest Territories and east of the Mackenzie River Delta. This region is home to the Mackenzie Inuit or Inuvialuit. The late 1890s would see the arrival of large-scale commercial whaling fleets into the region, soon followed by an influx of Inuit from Alaska. By the time of Ruben’s birth, Inuit culture was in the midst of a profound change that would forever alter their traditional way of life. Up until the age of 8 Abraham lived with his family on the land migrating with the changing patterns of the seasons. As it had been for thousands of years, life was hard and the family needed to rely on the skills and efforts of all members to ensure survival in one of the harshest environments on earth. In the late 1950s, Abraham and his brothers were sent away to residential schools. His life during the 11 years of the school have haunted him. This and more set the stage for Ruben’s lifelong quest to re-discover and connect with his roots. Stories, myths and legends of ancient Northern cultures find new life and expression through his work. "I have always tried to learn from others, either Inuit or other elderly people who can pass on their knowledge of what life is about. I try to put that into my sculpture." Abraham Anghik Ruben

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