Hunter Totem (LAJ16)
Artist: Leonard Apangalook Jr.
Title: Hunter Totem
Medium: Bull Tusk (Walrus Ivory), Walrus Jaw Bone, Baleen, wood, sinew
26 1/2 inches tall by 13 inches long by 10 inches wide
A note from the artist:
“As I was carving this particular piece, I felt a need to explain it and introduce it and myself. My name is Leonard Apangalook Jr., my Eskimo name is Imaghmii, which translates to “from deep within the sea,” in my Siberian Yupik language. In the traditional way, as the eldest, I was raised by my grandparents.
I grew up living a subsistence lifestyle in Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. It is about 110 miles from the mainland and 39 miles from Russia. On a clear day, their big mountains are visible in the horizon from the village.
I have been carving for 45 of my 58 years. While carving the animals that I hunt, I think back on the hunts that I have been on. In the spring, while boat hunting, there were times when hunting conditions were perfect. There would be lots of ice to roam in and the sun would be shining bright and hot. With Calm winds, the waters along the ice were smooth and shining like a mirror.
After successfully getting game, we would get on the ice to harvest it. While cutting and working, we would notice these beautiful birds that would show up. Not seagulls, but dove looking, all white except for black feet and beak. You don’t see them around until you get game. They only come in pairs and no more than two. They hang around swimming close while picking at the water or they land on the ice we are on and pick at the snow. You cannot help but pause to watch them and marvel at their beauty and grace. The most beautiful creature I have seen, truly one of God’s creations. Will I ever see them again? With no ice and rough seas, conditions have not been good for the past four to five years due to global warming.
When I carved a hunter on this tusk, I felt a need to include this bird for the first time even though I cannot capture its live beauty. Will I ever experience those times again or is it a thing of the past.
I carved this tusk in memory of those beautiful days.”
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