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First Name: Karoo

Last Name: Ashevak

Community: Talurjuaq

Sex: M

Disc Number: E4196

Date born: 00/00/1940


Karoo Ashevak (also known as Mungnelli) was born in 1940 in the Kitimeot, central Arctic region, of what is now known as Nunavut.1 He resided in the community of Taloyoak, near Spence Bay. He died with his family in a house fire on October 19th 1974, at age 34.

Spending his early years living the nomadic Inuit hunting lifestyle Karoo adhered to traditional beliefs.2 He moved to Taloyoak in 1968 with his wife Doris.3 His carving career also began in 1968 through a government sponsored arts and crafts program.4

Karoo's work is synonymous with whalebone. His choice may have begun due to a scarcity of other potential materials for sculpture in the community at that time or it may have resulted from a preference for a material that is light in comparison to stone.5 Old whalebone would remain his medium of choice which he would augment with local materials such as stone, baleen and ivory.6

Whalebone is a sculpting material that needs to be aged for 50 to 100 years before it is ready for carving. Whalebone that is insufficiently aged or dried can smell and shrink after carving.7 During those early years artists of the Taloyoak area would import whalebone into the community by charted plane.8

Karoo is credited with contributing to what is now known as the "expressionistic style" of the Kitikmeot area with his "distortion of features" in figures, and his creative approach to whalebone.9 The disturbing and whimsical subject matter of his artwork often referred to the spirit world he learned about as a child.10 Through his "direct and powerful" approach to his sculptures as well as by his great technical skill and "lively imagination" Karoo conveyed his love of the Inuit's traditional lifestyle which he expressed with great technical skill and a "lively imagination".11,12,13 His "love of gadgets" also found their way into his artwork.14

Receiving acknowledgement late in his artistic life Ashevak is now seen as a prominent artist in Canadian Inuit art and has left behind a legacy of approximately 250 sculptures that are still eagerly collected.15 His first exhibition was in 1972 at the Av Isaacs gallery in Toronto. It was his second exhibition, however, in the following year at New York's American Indian Center that transformed him into both a "local hero" and an internationally renowned artist.16

Karoo is still remembered for his "legendary personality," "great curiosity and a great love of life".17,18 Aspects of his style continue to live on in the work of new generations of artists.19

1., (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada)
19. (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada)

Alternative Names:
• Ashevak Ashevak
• Karoo Ashevak
• Mungnelli Ashevak

The Early Years: Sculpture from the 50's and 60'sThe Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art
Building on Strengths: New Inuit Art from the CollectionWinnipeg Art Gallery
Im Schatten der Sonne: Zeitgenossische Kunst der Indianer und Eskimos in Kanada/In the Shadow of the Sun: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art in CanadaCanadian Museum of Civilization
Spirits by Karoo Ashevak and Other Sculptors of Spence BayFranz Bader Gallery
SculptureCanadian Eskimo Arts Council a competition/exhibition organized as a contribution to the Centennial of the N.W.T.
Cultures of the Sun and the Snow: Indian and Eskimo Art of the AmericasMusee des beaux-arts de Montreal held at "Man and His World"
Inuit Games/Inuit Pinguangit/Jeux des inuitDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
White Sculpture of the InuitSimon Fraser Gallery, Simon Fraser University
The Coming and Going of the Shaman: Eskimo Shamanism and ArtWinnipeg Art Gallery
Sculpture of the Inuit: Lorne Balshine Collection/Lou Osipov Collection/ Dr. Harry Winrob CollectionSurrey Art Gallery
Inuit Art in the 1970sDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Rothmans' Collection of Inuit SculptureKitchener - Waterloo Art Gallery
First Annual Collectors' Invitational ExhibitionInuk 1/Eskimo Art
Whalebone Carvings and Inuit PrintsMemorial University of Newfoundland Art Gallery
The Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art from the Art Gallery of OntarioUniversity of Guelph
Spirits and Shamans/Esprits et chamansDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Inuit MasksInuit Gallery of Vancouver
Inuit Art: A Selection of Inuit Art from the Collection of the National Museum of Man, Ottawa, and the Rothmans Permanent Collection of Inuit Sculpture, CanadaNational Museum of Man, Ottawa and Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Ltd.
Sculpture Inuit: Stone/Bone circa 1960-1979Canadiana Galleries
Collector's Choice: 1965-1980Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit ArtArt Gallery of Ontario
Inuit Masterworks: Selections from the Collection of Indian and Northern Affairs CanadaMcMichael Canadian Collection
Stones, Bones, Cloth, and Paper: Inuit Art in Edmonton CollectionsEdmonton Art Gallery
Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit ArtWinnipeg Art Gallery
Sanaugasi Takujaksat: A Travelling Celebration of Inuit SculpturePresented by Canadian Arctic Producers Ltd., with the assistance of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa
The Spirit of the LandThe Koffler Gallery
Contemporary Inuit ArtNational Gallery of Canada
Selections from the John and Mary Robertson Collection of Inuit ArtAgnes Etherington Art Centre Queen's University
Karoo Ashevak SculptureThe Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art
Karoo Ashevak: SpiritsAmerican Indian Arts Centre
Karoo Ashevak Whalebone SculptureLippel Gallery
Karoo AshevakWinnipeg Art Gallery
Karoo Ashevak 1940 - 1974 SculptureThe Upstairs Gallery
Masters of the Arctic: An Exhibition of Contemporary Inuit MasterworksPresented by the Amway Corporation at the United Nations General Assembly
KitikmeotInuit Gallery of Vancouver
Arctic MirrorCanadian Museum of Civilization
Inuit Art From the Glenbow CollectionGlenbow Museum
Granville Island Canadian Inuit Sculpture Exhibition (first exhibition)Vancouver Inuit Art Society
Masterwork Sculpture 1985Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Inuit Sculpture 1974/Sculpture Inuit 1974Lippel Gallery
Karoo in OttawaNational Gallery of Canada
The Inuit ImaginationWinnipeg Art Gallery
Collectable Sculpture 1987Webster Galleries
Immaginario Inuit Arte e cultura degli esquimesi canadesiGalleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
Art/Inuit/Art: The Rothmans Permanent Collection of Eskimo SculptureRothmans of Pall Mall Canada Ltd.

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