The name “Spirit Wrestler”, more universally known as a shaman, originates from the book title by the late James Houston. The namesake exhibition explores themes of shamanism and transformation, as well as interpretations of Arctic legends and the many guises of Sedna (Sea Goddess). The collection consists of over 100 original inspired sculptures offering a contemporary glimpse into an ancient world of beliefs that is fast disappearing. The Inuit artists are working in varied materials and represent many communities across the Arctic, from Alaska in the west to Labrador in the east.
Sadly, we have lost many of the great old carvers over the last decade; several are in this exhibition, including Judas Ullulaq, Josiah Nuilaalik, Elijah Michael, Nuyaliaq Qirmirpik and Peter Sevoga. Their sculptures serve as a stark reminder of the enormous vacuum they leave behind. A few of the older artists, Samson Kingalik, Joe Kiloonik and Barnabus Arnasungnaaq, still remember the traditional life on the land, carving occasionally to reveal intimate insights into the past. Now the responsibility rests on the younger artists like Isacci Etidloie, Billy Gauthier, Toonoo Sharky and Michael Massie, letting their imaginations create sculptures, which offer modern yet relevant interpretations of their history.