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 Toonoo Sharky  (1970 - )

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Lived/Active: Nunavut / Canada      Known for: Inuit theme stone sculpture

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Cape Dorset Totem of Faces
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Toonoo Sharky RCA (b. 1970)

A prominent contemporary Canadian Inuit* carver and sculptor, Toonoo Sharky was born in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, which is still his home. He is an important third generation Inuit artist and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*. His works have been featured in numerous major exhibitions and collected by several museums. (1)

His primary medium is stone – usually serpentine or marble – frequently inlaid with ivory or antler. His subjects include birds, faces, Inuit mythology (transformation), the spirit world, fantasy, humor, legend, arctic wildlife and social commentary. His styles could be described as Inuit Art* and Surrealism*. AskART Images have some excellent illustrations of his oeuvre.

Excerpt: “A third-generation artist, his work is informed by both the past and the present. He explores the concept of shamanic transformation in his sculpture. The shaman or 'human' element, frequently represented by a mask-like face, often appears to be in a state of flux between the natural world and the unknown world of spirits. The primary spirit helper or spirit animal tends to be a strong falcon-like bird or owl. These bird figures are featured on their own as well.” Source: Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art*.

Sharky has been carving since he was ten years old and has been a full-time professional artist since he was seventeen. He acknowledges his grandfather Kuppapik Ragee and his uncle Shorty Killiktee (see both in AskART) as teachers having the greatest impact on his work. (2)

Sharky’s carvings have been included in exhibitions such as “Images of Influence”, Surrey Art Gallery, B.C. (1992); “Inuit Art on the Mezzanine: New Acquisitions”, Winnipeg Art Gallery* (1992); “Keeping Our Stories Alive: An Exhibition of the Art and Crafts from Dene and Inuit of Canada”, Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1995); “Transitions: Contemporary Canadian Indian and Inuit Art”, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France and Waikato Museum of Art and History, Hamilton, New Zealand (1997); “Inuit Art: A Heritage for the Future”, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, Montreal (1999); “Carving an Identity: Inuit Sculpture from the Permanent Collection”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and touring (1999 – 2000); “Inuit: When Words Take Shape”, Natural History Museum of Lyon, France and touring (2002 – 2003); “Inuit Sculpture Now”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and touring (2005 – 2007); “Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum”, Heard Museum, Phoenix and touring (2006 – 2011); “In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun: Sami and Inuit Art: 2000 – 2005”, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (2007); and in “Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (2013).

His works have also been included in solo and group exhibitions at prominent commercial galleries such as the Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver; Marion Scott Gallery, Vancouver; Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, B.C.; Feheley Fine Arts, Toronto; Gallery Phillip, Toronto; Isaacs/Innuit Gallery, Toronto; Galerie Images Boreales, Montreal; Pucker Gallery, Boston; Arctic Inuit Art, Richmond, Virginia; Orca Aart, Chicago; Maslak McLeod Canadian Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Snow Goose Associates, Seattle; Albers Gallery, San Francisco; and Inuit Galerie, Mannheim, Germany.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his works are in the permanent collections of the Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Museum of Anthropology (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Winnipeg Art Gallery* (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).

In 2003 Sharky was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*.

(1) Researchers please note: According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and alternate names for this artist are Soroseelktoo Sharky and Soroseelktoo. However, no additional information for this biography was obtained after searching with either name. Sharky also has a Canadian government issued Inuit Disc Number* – E72729 – which may have been used to sign works and a signature in syllabics* which has been used to sign works in addition to his signature “T. Sharky”.

(2) For more information about how and why modern Inuit art developed please see the AskART glossary entry for Inuit Art*.

“Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art” (2012), edited by Darlene Coward Wight (see AskART book references)

“Tuvaq: Inuit Art and the Modern World” (2010), edited by Ken Mantel and Heather Lane (see AskART book references)

“Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum” (2006), by Ingo Hessel (see AskART book references)

“Cape Dorset Sculpture” (2005), by Derek Norton and Nigel Reading (see AskART book references)

“Biographies of Inuit Artists” (1993), compiled and published by the Inuit Art Section, Indian and Northern Affairs, Canada (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art*

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*

Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver

Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery, Vancouver

Inuit Art Alive (website)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Written and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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