My Name Is Arnaktauyok: The Life and Art of Germaine Arnaktauyok by Germaine Arnaktauyok and Gyu Oh
Her name alone is imbued with such meaningful history. She was called Arnaktauyok by her mother, in accordance with a request made by a blind woman who took care of her motherless mother, who insisted a baby with such a name “would have very good eyes.” That didn’t prove true: “I do not have good eyes, though I may have better insight. I think and talk in pictures, so artwork is natural to me.” The stunning pages here will convince you beyond any doubt that these are the works of a gifted, true artist.
Germaine would become her Catholic name, used when she entered residential school at age 9, where she would leave her traditional Inuk childhood behind forever. Decades later, in the 1980s, she would return to her native North, where she couldn’t get her identification card because her name had been changed to her father’s, even though “Inuit never took their father’s names, like the white men do.” She wrote the Canadian government officials, “I wanted by original name back.” Now almost 70, Arnaktauyok has reclaimed her traditions, her myths, her history … and, of course, her precious name.
Her life journey from her mother’s first daughter to world-famous artist is detailed here through her own reminiscences and her spectacular art. Interspersed are the edifying words of praise from gallery owners and admirers, but Arnaktauyok’s etchings, prints, lithographs, and more, need nothing more than to be seen – again and again – to appreciate their breathtaking accomplishment. From figures to textures, animals to legends, landscapes to dreams, Arnaktauyok’s distinct work ranges widely from playful to somber, celebratory to mournful, brilliantly colorful to muted black-and-white.
From an airline advertisement poster (her first commission) to commemorative coins to illuminating windows into her personal experiences, Arnaktauyok’s art never disappoints. Published by Inhabit Media, an Inuit-owned publisher and “the only independent publishing company located in the Canadian Arctic,” the dazzling volume – size, layout, design are all so perfect – is both a testimony of resilience, and a triumphant exhibit of artistic excellence. Lucky for her worldwide audiences, Arnaktauyok’s oeuvre continues to grow: “I think I will always do artwork. Artists never stop. … Artists are never done.”
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult