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About John Houston







1998 Pangnirtung Community Print Collection

Introduction by John Houston, Arts Advisor




The last time I wrote an introduction for the Pangnirtung prints, my clothes were still smoky from the remains of the 1994 print shop fire. On that same page, Andrew Qappik voiced the desire of the printmakers to build and equip a new workspace.

Josea Maniapik says there's a good chance the sun will show - for the first time in 1998. My host and I are on our way to work in that wonderful new print shop, a dream come true. And the Uqqurmiut Inuit Artists Association has a right to be proud of this studio. When funds ran out, they became cabinet makers to finish the interior themselves. Rosie Okpik was not well, but she lived to host the grand opening. That determination in the face of impossible odds can be seen in the cover print: Towkie Qarpik's “Surprised by a Polar Bear.”

To hear that the collection is masterfully printed will surprise no one. We have come to expect this dedication of the Uqqurmiut, in their printmaking as in their tapestries, so tightly and carefully woven as to be virtually reversible. What is a revelation is the number of master drawings recently obtained from artists. Elisapee Ishulutaq and Annie Kilabuk are in top form, their lively line in “The Likes of this Egg Have Never Been Seen” and “Inukshuit Mark Our Fishing Lake” bringing early Pang prints to mind. Jeetaloo Akulukjuk's “Inuit Whalers” and Towkie Qarpik's “Women Making Whale Oil” are strong additions to Pangnirtung's whaling imagery. Is this evidence of a renaissance in drawing? It is vital to the future of the Pangnirtung prints to expand the drawing program.

The printmakers are also well represented artistically. Andrew Qappik has drawn and printed five of the twenty images, including the tender “As I See” and the graceful “Early Summer Loons.”

The print shop fire shocked everybody by putting the existence of Pang printmaking at risk. With renewed commitment, the Uqqurmiut have created a wonderful workspace, and a vibrant new collection. Just as Josea and I pull up to the print shop, the sun peeks over the mountain. For the people of Pangnirtung, it's been a long winter, but the waiting is over.

John Houston
Advisor to the Pangnirtung Printmaking Program, 1975-1979


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This page was last updated on Monday February 21, 2005