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Cape Dorset, the “capital of Inuit Art,” has a higher proportion of artists than any city in Canada—almost one quarter of its workforce are professional print-makers, carvers and artists.

Inuit Art in Canada

The Inuit and their ancestors have been producing carvings and other works of art for thousands of years. Because Inuit communities were often mobile—moving between hunting grounds in winter and summer—much of their art was small and portable. Fine carvings, often with spiritual or religious meanings, could be made from ivory, bone antler or wood. When the Inuit first encountered Europeans, their carvings became a prized trade item. Inuit carvers began to produce more carvings as souvenirs for visiting sailors. This new kind of trade art didn’t have much to do with the spiritual carvings of the past. Today, Inuit art remains popular in Canada, and the range of art produced has expanded to printmaking and new media. Cape Dorset, called the “capital of Inuit art” emerged in the 1950s as a hub for Inuit art. Its status has only grown over the decades.

Discussion Questions

What motivates an artist to produce new pieces of art?

How can art be used to express culture? Or history?


Cape Dorset. “Town History.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. “Inuit Art.” Canadian Broadcasting Company. “Cape Dorset named most ‘artistic’ municipality.”

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