Joe Jaw Ashoona
“We have many social issues to overcome in the North, but I believe that education in and the proliferation of Inuit art will help us tackle them.”
I sold my first carving at the age of seven. My mother and grandfather taught me how to work with a variety of stone, petrified whalebone, mammoth ivory, musk ox horn and antler. I draw my inspiration for subject material from the time I spent growing up on the land. My memories of the Nunavummiut animals inform my carvings. A variety of which can be seen on my website.
I dedicate much of my time to making sizeable carvings ranging from 50-150 pounds each. This is my full-time occupation and one piece can take weeks if not months to complete.
Carving is the way that I perserve Inuit stories and traditional knowledge of the land, sea and animals. It is also a conduit for me to help other carvers grow their potential and become more valued by the industry for their work.
At Ashoona Arts 360, I am trying to bring awareness of the realities of the Inuit art world and how reconciliation is also needed in this domain. Through events like my most recent exhibition 20 Claws and 4 Fangs, I brought in throat singers, shared a qulliq ceremony, country food, Inuit tools and fashion and displayed my carvings to a diverse group in Montreal. I want to bring Inuit carving further by fulfilling a social mandate of public education and to work closely with other Inuit artists to achieve this.
We have many social issues to overcome in the North, but I believe that education in and the proliferation of Inuit art will help us tackle them. I will continue to carve as long as my body will allow and to devote my life’s work to the advancement of Inuit art on an international scale.
Joe Jaw Ashoona is an Inuk carver from Cape Dorset based in Montreal.