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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Written in stone : a comparative analysis of Sedna and the Moon Spirit as depicted in contemporary Inuit sculpture and graphics Prokop, Carol Ann


Traditional mythological themes have been repeatedly depicted in contemporary Inuit art since the late 1950s. This thesis examines the portrayals of the female sea spirit or Sedna and the male moon spirit in sculpture and graphics by contemporary Inuit artists from three Arctic art "communities": Baker Lake, Cape Dorset and Povungnituk. Analysis of the mythological depictions has led me to conclude that artists have tended to employ two distinct styles of illustration to represent these deities. These two types are iconic and narrative. Introduced by the first generation of contemporary Inuit artists working in the late 1950s these types functioned as tangible expressions of the unique nature and role of each deity in Inuit culture as these were perceived by the Inuit artists, and involved a complicated process of integrating both traditional and "alien" elements. Subsequent generations of artists have retained these prototypes and continued to incorporate elements based on these two influences. The complex evolution of Sedna and Moon Spirit imagery reflects the role contemporary Inuit mythological art has come to play as both a medium of communication to non-Inuit and a historical and cultural repository for the Inuit.

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