Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)
Ruth Annaqtuusi Tulurialik

Ruth Annaqtuusi Tulurialik


Baker Lake, Nunavut Territory, Canada

(1934- )

Ruth was born near the Kazan River and came to Baker Lake as a baby with her adoptive parents, Elizabeth and Thomas Tapatai. She is married to Hugh Tulurialik, who operates an outfitting business in Baker Lake. They have three children. Both Ruth and Hugh are singers and musicians and together they travel extensively in the north to perform at various communities. Ruth began drawing in the mid-60s under the guidance of Jessie Oonark. Her drawings usually depict everyday life scenes on the land and subjects taken from her vast knowledge of traditional stories and legends.

“A Canadian Inuit artist best known for her exuberant drawings, bright-colored wool duffel wall-hangings, and energetic stoneblock prints produced through the Sanavik Co-operative at Baker Lake, Northwest Territories, Ruth Annaqtuusi Tulurialik did not turn to art until she was in her mid-thirties. Tulurialik was born in a traditional Inuit camp along the Kazan River in the Keewatin district of Arctic Canada before the establishment of permanent communities in the Canadian North. As an infant she was adopted by her aunt and uncle, Elisapee Unuqnuq and Thomas Tapatai, and was raised in the area that was to become the community of Baker Lake during the 1950s.

“Having worked a number of years as an interpreter for the nursing station, child care worker, and cook, Tulurialik became very interested in the arts and crafts projects that were introduced in her community during the 1960s under the auspices of the Canadian federal government. She first tried her hand at wool duffel wall-hangings but has become better known for her strongly gestural drawings and for the stonecut and stencil prints based on her drawings.

“Tulurialik draws inspiration for her art from the traditional ways of her Inuit culture, filling her compositions with extremely imaginative depictions of Arctic animals, Inuit in traditional dress, women with facial tatoos, shamans and spirits, fantastic birds and fish, and transformational images. Her drawings—usually in colored pencil—are highly-complex in organization and frequently fill the entire page with color. She characteristically overlays one hue over another to create complex and textured skeins of color and often extends the background nearly to the edge of the page, creating a narrow border which she leaves blank to frame her drawings. The figures in Tulurialik’s drawings are firmly outlined and filled with color, and she makes occasional use of ‘voice balloons’ to indicate sounds or works expressed by the highly active humans, animals, and spirits that occupy the vibrant world she creates.”

Artist Contemporaries