Simeonie Elijassiapik was born on February 12, 1948 in a small hunting camp just north of Inukjuak. He is the son of the late Elijassiapik, who was a carver. His brothers, Eli Elijassiapik and Harry are also well-known carvers, and his sister, Sarah Elijassiapik, is a printmaker in Inukjuak. Simeonie attended two years of high school but quit because he felt that the information he was being taught was not applicable to the Inuit. He lives in Inukjuak with his wife Lucy, whom he married in 1969, and their children. In addition to carving, Simeonie operates a local snowmobile repair shop. Simeonie’s father taught him the basic skills of hunting, a task which they undertook together until Elijassiapik was hospitalized in 1966; Simeonie continued to hunt, primarily in the company of Johnny Inukpuk. It is not surprising that the famous artist had a profound influence on the young man’s artistic development. At age fourteen Simeonie began to carve sculpture based on the theme of the hunt. Over the years shamanic transformations — man into animal or animal into man — have dominated this artist’s work. Moreover, Simeonie’s sculptures have successfully combined both the influences of his father’s traditional approach with the stylistic conventions of Johnny Inukpuk. A strong undercurrent of mysticism suggests itself not only in the choice of subject matter, but perhaps also in the rhythmic flow of lines. Simeonie’s abilities have been highly recognized by his fellow artists, and in 1981 he was awarded first prize in a carving competition organized by the members of the Inukjuak Cooperative. His bold individual style has also found much favour among collectors of Inuit art both in North America and Europe.
Excerpt courtesy Inuit Art Section, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), 1997.
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