Johnny Kataluk (1937-) lives in Coral Harbour (Salliq), on Southampton Island to the northwest of the Hudson Bay, and which is a small, relatively unknown, and certainly less marketed community. In 1902, the original Sallirmiut population died from disease brought by European whalers. Since that time, Coral Harbour has become populated by a blend of many Inuit peoples who have migrated from Baffin Island, Arctic Quebec, and the mainland Keewatin areas. Kataluk reflects this trend as he also moved to Coral Harbour from Arctic Quebec as a child.
Johnny Kataluk has been quietly carving for over thirty years — with little recognition outside of his own community. Generally he works in the local gray, often striated, soapstone when it is available, but supplements this with the rusty red limestone from a newly worked nearby quarry. [This exhibition coincided with an exhibition of artwork by Joe Eqilaq.] Despite the differences in age and locale, both artists have evolved their own very contemporary styles, which, are in many respects, quite similar in intent. One could say that the nuance of their minimalist carving styles is quite modern — but both are very much rooted in tradition. This is evident in their powerful representations of life on the land, the shamans in transformation, and their wonderful portrayals of the Sedna.