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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Inuit art on display in MSC

Photo by Photo by Edith Anthony

“The Inuit Print: First Generation” will be on display in the MSC’s J. Wayne Stark Galleries until Dec. 15. 

The J. Wayne Stark Galleries are currently home to “The Inuit Print: First Generation,” an exhibit composed of artwork from the collection of retired Texas A&M professor Peter Witt. 
A professor emeritus of recreation, park and tourism sciences, Witt began collecting the work of  Inuit artists shortly after he moved to Ottawa, Canada for his first teaching job. Witt said this exhibit features artists who grew up on the land and learned to express their experiences through art later in life.
“Inuit printmaking did not start until the late 1950s, largely as a way for the Inuit, who by then had moved into permanent communities, to earn a living,” Witt said. “Most of the prints are by artists from the Cape Dorset community, considered to be the leading community for the production of Inuit art.”
According to Witt, the artists represented in the exhibit are some of the most honored and respected of the early printmakers — Kenojuak Ashevak, Pitseolak Ashoona, Pudlo Pudlat and Helen Kalvak.
“People should notice the number of accomplished women artists,” Witt said. “Women have played a dominant role in printmaking since the earliest collections were released in the late 1950s. Several of the artists are considered national treasures in Canada and around the world.”
Witt said his father was particularly interested in Inuit art and opened The Arctic Circle art gallery in Los Angeles in 1971. Witt said he quickly fell in love with Inuit prints and sculptures and became a collector himself.  
“Luckily, my wife, Joyce, also had an interest, so over the years we built our collection,” Witt said. “Our interest in Inuit prints and sculptures also builds on our interest in the arts of first peoples — in particular, the art of Native Americans.”
Witt said he and his wife have not been able to display all of the prints in their house at one time, so it is a thrill for them to see all the prints together under gallery lighting. 
“I hope that people will add to their knowledge of a culture and peoples that many think of as primitive, living in igloos and artistically inactive,” Witt said. “The Inuit are doing amazing work in graphics, sculpture, drama, music, film and other art forms. People should enjoy their skills and dedication to their craft.”
Sociology junior Cierra Jackson is part of the staff that set up the exhibit.
“Working at the J. Wayne Stark Galleries has given me a better appreciation of the arts, especially since they aren’t as talked about as the sciences here at A&M,” Jackson said. “ I hope students learn to appreciate the impact art has.” 
Engineering freshman Darrius Dias visited the gallery after the opening day, and said he likes how the art galleries are on campus, making them easily accessible to students. 
“You don’t hear much about the Inuit people, and I wasn’t aware of the fact that they had art,” Dias said. “It was interesting learning about them more in the artistic sense. Having something like this so close is great. Everyone should come out and see something new once in a while.”

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