I started carving because an Elder told me that Inuvialuit art was dying out. That caught my attention, because I believe it is so beautiful and important. My dad and uncles, along with other Inuvialuit artists taught me how to carve. The detailed work I do today is because they pushed me to be better than they were.
Carving helps me share my culture with others. I use what I see and what I have experienced to create my art. All my life I’ve hunted bears, as that is part of our culture and survival in the North. I like to carve all sorts of polar bears; dancing bear, jumping bear, even bored polar bears – and they all have a smile. Even when the bear is coming right at you, its little lip will be up, smiling. To me, the dancing bear is very beautiful and tells a powerful story of the hunt. Besides bears, I also like to carve hunters and drum dancers, seals, walruses and whales.
It amazes me what images can be put in the stone. I use all sorts of stone, such as white stone or real soapstone, depending on the time that I have to carve. The stone tells you what it wants to become as a carving. You can look at it and see many things. I also like to carve out of bone because I can maneuver the harder, finer parts. Caribou antler is my favourite because you can really shape it and you can correct it if you make a mistake.
My favorite part about creating art is letting my imagination run wild. If you have the imagination, anything is possible. I use power tools to increase the amount of pieces I make per day, but all my finishing work is still done by hand, which is a must for the details I put in the movement and expressions. My work is different because of the details you can find in it.
Carving makes me feel awesome. I go to my art to heal. It’s a restorative process for me. I say my prayers before I start carving and I do it again at the end of the day, because you never know if you have another day. My past wasn’t easy. But now I’m in the studio with my colleague Derrald (Taylor). He’s a brother to me. We both made a choice to keep Inuvialuit art alive. We always push each other and encourage each other. We love what we do and we will continue.