“As an artist, I used my imagination and used the shape of the stone as to not waste the piece. I figured out (that I should) get busy and make it into a more interesting shape. This piece is from a shaman’s perspective, the difficulty of being a shaman with bird feet and a whale’s tail.”
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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