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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Pudlo Pudlat : images of change Lister, Beverley-Ann


Two problems in the appreciation of Inuit art are firstly, the commercial cornerstone and, secondly, the cultural gap, in most cases, between the viewer and the artist. With regard to the first, although commercialism is a fact, it should not cloud the obvious visual and informative expressiveness of the works of such artists as Pudlo Pudlat, the subject of this thesis. Rather than dwell upon the negative aspects of commercialism, we concentrate on the benefits. For, without the monetary impulse, many artists might not have begun to externalize, and thereby record, the events and feelings associated with a culture both removed from our own and also undergoing the dramatic changes of acculturation. This is the essence of the second problem. It is one which faces anybody wishing to approach the unfamiliar. In this particular case it required the reading of sociological, anthropological, and psychological abstracts, among others. None of these as good as the primary experience, yet all geared to helping lower the barriers of one's own cultural bias. In short, extensive background information on traditional and acculturational life in the North is a necessity. Pudlo has been drawing for over twenty years, since the beginning of print-making. In reviewing the development of his oeuvre, one comes to an appreciation of his work and of the development of print-making in the Canadian Arctic in general, as well as in Cape Dorset, specifically. The themes of Pudlo's prints reveal his brand of historicism to be more than a documentation of traditional life in the North. The hunter-turned-artist infuses information with a profound depth of emotion. His shamanic images educate the less well informed and surely evoke memories and feelings in the initiated. Portrayals of the land and animals project the Inuit's long-standing respect for, and intimate bond with, nature. Pudlo is one of the very few Inuit artists to include modern objects in his drawings. In his choice and use of these motifs, he creates a continuum between his shamanic past and the rapidly changing present.

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