Axangayu (Axangayuk) Shaa (RCA)
Born March 17, 1935 (Shartoweektok, Nunavut) – Died in 2019 (Nunavut)
Grandson of the legendary hunter and artist Kiakshuk, Aqjangayuk began sculpting at the age of seventeen. Following a brief period of experimentation with printmaking – which culminated in a print for the Cape Dorset Annual Collection in 1961 – the artist devoted himself entirely to sculpture. His work was included in the exhibition “Sculpture of the Inuit: Masterpieces of the Canadian Arctic” in the early 1970s. Since then he has exhibited widely.
One of Shaa’s favorite themes is the dancing animal. His understanding of balance as well as the innate elegance of his style are evident in her designs. Although imbued with a strong sense of mass, his bears, walruses, owls as well as caribous are animated and sculpted with a consideration and attention to the fluidity in the movement of the animal.
Shaa, elected to the Royal Canadian Academy (RCA) in 2003, is one of the first generation of Inuit artists. Around the world, his works is featured in major collections of Inuit art, as well as in the general public. In 2000, one of his dancing walrus sculptures was presented to the Australian people to celebrate sixty years of diplomatic relations between the two nations. Alongside his art, we often find the works of his sculptor sons, Pudlalik, Qiatsuq, Alariaq and his adopted grandson Qavavau, from whom he all taught to sculpt.
Various pieces of Aqjangayuk Shaa can now be seen among several prestigious collections including at the Museum of Fine Arts of Canada as well as that of Montreal, at the Dennos Museum Center, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at the Canadian Museum of Civilizations, at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center and many more.