Coexistence

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Untitled (figures with goose)
Untitled (tall figure with animals)
Inuit artist,graphite on paper, aboriginal perspective, portrait, lifestyle, visual relationships, space, emptiness, line, line and weight, relationships of people/subjects to each other,seal, dog,caribou,duck walrus, location of the viewer, body size, identities, community, context, narrative in drawing, assumptions, figure - size relationship, survival of people, survival of animals
description

In these two works,  InuitInuit means “the people” in Inukititut, the language of the people of northern Canada. Go to http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/info/info114_e.html for further information.  artist Parr is providing images of a way of life using the simplest of tools - a stick of  graphiteA soft black mineral substance, a form of carbon, available in powder, stick, and other forms. It has a metallic luster and a greasy feel. Compressed with fine clay, it is used in lead pencils (though contemporary lead pencils contain no lead), lubricants, paints, and coatings, among other products. Also called black lead and plumbago. (artlex.com)  and a piece of paper.

Despite his undeveloped handling of his medium, Parr’s work nevertheless communicates by employing an understanding of visual relationships. These relationships exist between space, emptiness,  lineA mark with length and direction(-s). An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. Types of line include: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, straight or ruled, curved, bent, angular, thin, thick or wide, interrupted (dotted, dashed, broken, etc.), blurred or fuzzy, controlled, freehand, parallel, hatching, meandering, and spiraling. Often it defines a space, and may create an outline or contour, define a silhouette; create patterns, or movement, and the illusion of mass or volume. It may be two-dimensional (as with pencil on paper) three-dimensional (as with wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form). (Artlex.com)  and weight. But they also convey Parr’s consideration of his subjects and their relationships to each other.

Take, for example, the people depicted in Untitled (figures with goose). Three of them face the viewer. Their hands and feet are small but their heads are large and their bodies are pillowy. They extend their tiny arms as if to embrace us, to welcome us to warm human contact. Their heads are supported on thin necks, suggesting that their faces and cores are the most important parts of them. In other words, they offer their identities and their ability to provide comfort as they address (or approach?) their viewer.   They are community.
 
A fourth  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  shares their space. Faceless and small, with a hood over his head, his arms are outstretched also but he directs them towards the goose on the other side of the image. He seems to be chasing it, and it seems to be fleeing him, though without  contextThe varied circumstances in which a work of art is (or was) produced and interpreted. There are three arenas to these circumstances, each of them highly complex. The first pertains to the artist: attitudes, beliefs, interests, values, intentions and purposes, education and training, and biography (including psychology). The second is the setting in which the work was produced: the apparent function of the work (to adorn, beautify, express, illustrate, mediate, persuade, record, redefine reality, or redefine art), religious and philosophical convictions, sociopolitical and economic structures, and even climate and geography. Third is the field of the work's reception and interpretation: the traditions it is intended to serve, the mind-set it adheres to (ritualistic, perceptual, rational, and emotive), and, perhaps most importantly, the colour of the lenses through which the work is being scrutinized — i.e., the interpretive mode (artistic biography, psychological approaches, political criticism, feminism, cultural history, intellectual history, formalism, structuralism, semiotics, hermeneutics, post-structuralism and deconstruction, reception theory, concepts of periodicity [stylistic pendulum swinging], and other chronological and contextual considerations. Context is much more than the matter of the artist's circumstances alone. (Artlex.com)  Parr’s figures are made strangely equal; any narratives that we create from the images are ours entirely, based on our assumptions.

WalrusIn the other work presented here, Untitled (tall  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  with animals), Parr depicts a single person surrounded by creatures - seal, dog, caribou, duck, and walrus (seen at right). The human here is without the enveloping embrace of the previous examples, and it is the figure’s height that is emphasized rather than its softness or relationship to the viewer. Instead, Parr is depicting a human as the minority, almost equaled in size by the walrus and outnumbered by the creatures on the right of the image; Parr suggests the survival of his people, and the continuation of their way of life, depends upon the animals around them.

additional resources Things to Think About
Advanced Activity

More thought about Parr’s drawings

Artists make art about what they know.  Northern artists' subject matter is often focused on animals and hunting. Spirit creatures are also frequently shown because the  InuitInuit means “the people” in Inukititut, the language of the people of northern Canada. Go to http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/info/info114_e.html for further information.  believed that everything had a spirit. The large figures in Parr’s work might be interpreted as such. Parr’s drawings look deceptively simple. You might be thinking ‘well, a little kid could do that’, but like other northern artists, carvers and printmakers, Parr demonstrates the rule of  economyThrifty and frugal housekeeping; management without loss or waste; frugality in expenditure; prudence and disposition to save; as, a housekeeper accustomed to economy but not to parsimony. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  with skill. His drawings are symbolic, meaning that they contain a lot more information than is visually obvious. They are also ways of recording an event or even a “grocery” list of meat needed for the community’s survival. Parr is able to communicate what looks like little to us, but a great deal to those who lived a traditional northern lifestyle.  He communicates all this on a single sheet of paper.

Art history writing and discussion activity

Write an account or story to go with Parr’s drawings. Here are a few ideas to begin:

sled dogs

Here are some sources for Inuit Legends and stories:

 

Consider and discuss how life affects art!

Look at the work of Inuit carvers and printmakers. Find out some of the stories behind the works. You can find some examples at the following web sites:

How do northern Canadians live now? How might factors like global warming affect any traditions still held (for example, the sea ice is fast disappearing due to climate change, and polar bears are now considered an endangered species.) How might changes in lifestyle affect how artists express ideas?

 

Be curious as an artist; a challenge

How can the same idea occur in two different places at the same time?

“Cat’s Cradle” is said to be the oldest human game, played around the world. Some say it began in the Arctic. Below are some web sites with instructions for some varieties of Cat’s Cradle. Could this be inspiration as a source idea to make visual art? 

Advanced Activity Online Activity
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Look at Parr’s drawing, using the zoom tool if you choose. Identify which of the animals matches the picture examples below.

Using the Shapes button and the Select Shape button, select, drag and arrange the animal shapes to create a design. You can repeat animals or make them bigger or smaller.

Studio Activity

Create northern inspired fashion

Traditional Inuit clothing

InuitAt the following websites, you can see examples of how traditional  InuitInuit means “the people” in Inukititut, the language of the people of northern Canada. Go to http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/info/info114_e.html for further information.  clothing looked and read about how it was made. Women made clothing, and when they were introduced to coloured fabrics and beading, they began to integrate these with traditional ideas. Details of plants and animals are meticulously embroidered on garments and footware.

The problem with fashion

Here is something to think about and form an opinion on:

The fashion industry acquires idea and inspiration from all over the world, including from  InuitInuit means “the people” in Inukititut, the language of the people of northern Canada. Go to http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/info/info114_e.html for further information.  traditions. How often have you seen northern animal motifs on sweaters, parkas and other clothes in  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  Canadian culture? However, people in the north do not wear intricately embroidered or traditional clothes everyday. They wear winter clothes similar to most Canadians, with perhaps more attention to outerwear. Here is a website that shows some of these Intuit influences on  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  fashion: 

Inuit Inuit

At the websites below you can read how fashion designers think it is fair game to steal ideas. What do you think? Is this similar to appropriating the work of other artists? 

On the other hand, there are very talented Inuit designers presenting fashion to the world, as you can see in the BBC article “Sealskin fashion to boost Canada's fur trade” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/business/3682191.stm

Design a decorative patch with an animal motif

References

Author unknown.  ‘About Inuit Art.’  Inu-Art.com, Online Inuit Art Gallery.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 21, 2008 from:  http://www.inu-art.com/history.htm.

Author unknown.  ‘History.’  Inuit Art Society.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 21, 2008 from:  http://www.inuitartsociety.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=29.

Author unknown.  ‘Inuit, the People.’  Images of the North.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 21, 2008 from:  http://www.imagesnorth.com/History/history.htm.

Author unknown.  ‘Power Family Inuit Gallery.’  Inuit Art at the Dennos Museum Center.  Retrieved from the internet on May 21, 2008 from:  http://www.dennosmuseum.org/exhibitions/inuit/.

Hesso, Ingo.  ‘Parr.’  Canadian Encyclopedia.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 21, 2008 from:  http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006108.

Johnson, Darcy.  ‘Inuit Prints.’  Retrieved from the Internet on May 21, 2008 from:  http://www.mala.bc.ca/www/discover/educate/posters/noname1.htm.

Leung, Clint.  ‘The Birth Of Eskimo Inuit Art Prints.’  Ezine, April 25, 2005.  Retrieved from the Internet on May 21, 2008 from:  http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Birth-Of-Eskimo-Inuit-Art-Prints&id=29686.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning