Lot 44 - Helen Kalvak, RCA, 
(Inuit Canadian, 1901-1984), Hunting Caribou, ca. 1970

Helen Kalvak, RCA, 
 (Inuit Canadian, 1901-1984), Hunting Caribou
stencil on burlap
27 x 12 inches
ca. 1970
Notes: Signed in the lower right corner, "Holman Eskimos" Label Verso.
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Helen Kalvak was born at Tahiryuak Lake, on Victoria Island and raised in the Prince Albert Sound area. She lived a traditional Copper Inuit lifestyle for most of her life. Her parents encouraged her spiritual gifts and taught her to be an angatkuq (spiritual healer).

Although Kalvak later converted to Christianity, she continued to reflect her traditional spirituality in her artwork, along with the stories which she had learned as a child even though she didn’t begin drawing until she was in her 60’s. More than most Inuit graphics, her work depicts women in the roles of healer, sorcerer, and transformational figure. 'Bird Tracks"', 'Enchantress', and 'Dream' - all from 1973 - represent this theme.

In 1960, Kalvak moved to Holman (present-day Ulukhaktok). There she helped a Roman Catholic priest, Rev. Henri Tardy, set up the Holman Eskimo Co-op. It was at this time that Kalvak began her artwork. In 1965, her artwork was turned into prints and sold throughout the world.

In the years between 1962 and 1978, Kalvak made more than 1,800 drawings, of which 154 were made into stencil prints and lithographs. Her artworks were issued in the annual Holman Island print editions from 1965 to 1985. However, by 1978, she was no longer able to use her hands due to Parkinson's disease.
In 1979, Canada Post used her work entitled The Dance for the 17¢ postage stamp.

Ten years later, in 1975, Kalvak was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, followed by her appointment to the Order of Canada in 1978.

At the time of her death in 1984, Kalvak was one of the few remaining Inuit women in Ulukhaktok decorated with traditional beautifying facial tattoos.
The school in Ulukhaktok is named after her.
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1975 Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
1979 Order of Canada

Lot Name
Helen Kalvak, RCA, 
 (Inuit Canadian, 1901-1984), Hunting Caribou
Media
stencil on burlap
Size
27 x 12 inches
Date
ca. 1970
Estimate
$75 - $85

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