Q. How many artists live in Nunavut?
A. It’s estimated that there are 3,000 artists among Nunavut’s population of just 28,000 people. Most of
the artists are stone carvers. Many of them are subsistence hunters who carve in order to earn money for
the fuel, bullets and equipment needed to hunt for their families.
Q. Is the arts and crafts industry a major player in Nunavut's economy?
A. Yes. It's hard to accurately gauge its full impact, however, as a number of artists sell directly to the
Q. How many art schools are there in Nunavut?
A. None. However, the Nunavut Arctic College, the territory's only college, offers a Fine Arts Program,
with everything from short courses in basketmaking to three-year programs in jewelry. Contact the
college if you would like a particular program presented in your community. NACA also looks to organize and provide training and support for people looking to share their skills with other interested artists.
Q. How did so many people in Nunavut learn to be artists if they didn't go to art school?
A. Knowledge is passed down through the generations by Inuit elders.
Being hunters also helps Inuit to be good artists. Inuit have a very close relationship with the land and
its wildlife. Until they were settled into permanent communities by the federal government in the
1950s, Inuit lived as nomadic hunters on the land. The keen observation skills of the hunter and his
intimate familiarity with the land help the artist recreate animals and the environment in his artwork.
The traditional Inuit oral culture in which stories were passed down through the ages has fostered vivid
imaginations, and this manifests itself dramatically in Nunavut artwork as well.
Q. What are the stone statues that frequently appear in Inuit art?
A. They are inuksuit, rock cairns often shaped in the form of a human. These landmarks have long dotted
the Arctic landscape. Sometimes they were created as markers to show where hunters had traveled on
the treeless tundra. In other instances, they hold spiritual significance.