“When I carve, I am giving part of myself. I put so much energy and passion into the carving that I am working on that I am physically and mentally drained when the carving is finished. I do not like wearing a protective mask when I’m carving, so I know that the dust I’m breathing in is killing me. Each carving that I make takes so much out of me.”
Excerpt from Cape Dorset Sculpture, 2005.
“Jutai Toonoo, a painter and stone sculptor, is the son of the noted Inuit artists Sheojuk and Toonoo. He, along with his siblings—renowned sculptors Oviloo Tunnillie and Samonie Toonoo—learned to carve from their father and other family members. In the early 1980s, Jutai decided to take a break from carving and work in an office, but by the 1990s he had returned to his tools after completing a course in jewelry making and metalwork at the Nunavut Arctic College, Iqaluit (1995). Toonoo belongs to the “middle generation” of Inuit artists who straddle the traditional and modern worlds of the Arctic, negotiating an identity that is simultaneously introspective and worldly. He departs from ethnic expectations, using traditional Inuit stones in new and unexpected ways.
Excerpt from “Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3”, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, 2012.