As with most of my work, I take the very shape of the stone (and how it can be utilized to its utmost) into consideration. As I was looking at this one I began thinking of how I sometimes draw a basic shape on paper when the ideas aren’t coming easily. Here I had a flat side and took that thought and decided to add this drawing idea to the flat surface to give it some depth.
I thought of the snow angels that we kids used to make in the snow on those long cold winter days in Labrador. I wanted the face to have that expression of happiness but without too much detail… thinking of my old favorite artists from the Gjoa Haven area.
It was a little more challenging to think of an idea that would work with the other side of this stone. Sometimes I see this as the “other side” — and this is where I like to work with a “shamanistic theme.” As I began to work on this walrus form, it began to grow human body parts that ended up being the hands and the left leg. This idea came about when the two sides had to blend into each other — and because of the shape of the stone and the design and it just worked somehow.
The man on the one side is standing, grinning, as he watches the transformation begin — and on the other side of the work he still shows that human form…but takes the walrus form more to show his spirit. Because the design of the man on the one side has been carved into a concave shape — and his spirit is on the other is essentially convex — I ended up giving it the title, “in the spirit.”
Massie’s work is a reflection of his mixed Inuit, Métis and Scottish heritage. In it, he investigates both traditional and contemporary themes. He has achieved renown for his innovative teapots that combine themes and symbols from his native Inuit culture with European traditions. Massie has been twice short-listed for the coveted Prix Saidye Bronfman and has an extensive international reputation. His work has been shown in North America and Europe, including the National Gallery of Canada. He was elected a member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011.
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