“If I knew about shamans, I would talk about them more. I say again, I am too young to know about shamanism. There is so much shape and space in the stone to have different ideas, so I let my imagination go to work and get busy with it. So this shaman is old and wise (like an owl). After being a shaman knowing (all) about the ground, he became wise and old. He wanted to refresh his body, so he became an owl and started soaring around the Arctic.”
Toonoo’s parents, Josephee Sharky and Ragee Killiktee, were both carvers, though he credits his grandfather Kuppapik Ragee and his uncle Shorty Killiktee as influences. Toonoo started carving at ten, began to get serious at thirteen and first exhibited when he was just seventeen. He is regarded as one of the most exciting young carvers to emerge in the Arctic. His themes include fanciful and quite dramatic treatments of wildlife, particularly birds, and transformational works that are both powerful and humorous. His work is widely shown, and he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy in 2003.
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