Juanisi Jakusi Itukalla, or “Joanassie Jack”, as he is called, was born just south of Puvirnituq on December 2, 1949. He and his family moved into the community in 1957. Prompted by his father Aisa Avialiajuk Itukalla and his uncle Levi Qumaluk, both of whom have reputations as superb artists, Juanasi began to carve at about twelve years of age. His younger brother Peter Qumaluk Itukalla carves also, and through their mother they are related to that great family of sculptors which includes Joe Talirunili and Davidialuk Alasua Amittu. Juanisi has developed a powerful, distinctively personal style that draws upon his knowledge of Arctic fauna, ancient legends, and folklore.
The struggle for survival, which pits man against animal, animal against animal and man against his environment, is a central theme of Juanisi’s work. In their regal beauty Juanisi’s carvings eloquently convey the strength of the Inuit culture and the bonds that unite all living creatures. Juanisi has frequently demonstrated carving in Ottawa and Toronto, and once at ‘Man and His World’ in Montreal. In 1985, he was profiled in a documentary film entitled ‘Inukshuk’. The film features Juanisi and his family at their temporary summer camp; it documents the creation of one of his sculptures — from quarrying the stone to the completed carving.
Juanisi is the brother to Peter Boy Itukalla and Maggie Ittukallak, nephew of Levi Qumaluk.
Excerpt ©1997 Inuit Art Section, INAC