In the mid-1990s, Marcia and Robert Ellis began buying Inuit art, which they displayed alongside an eclectic mix of art and antiques in their home. Marcia Ellis commented, “We’ve never been tempted to stay with one style or medium or period. From our first purchase, our feeling has been, if we like something, it will get along fine with other things we like, and our house will be comfortable.”
In 2012 the Ellises donated 46 of their Inuit prints and carvings to the Arctic Museum. Cape Dorset and Beyond features 33 items from their collection, including the first piece they donated to the museum, Osuitok Ipeelee’s Spirit Owl, given in 2006 in honor of Marcia Ellis’s father, Philip Russakoff, Bowdoin Class of 1945.
The carvings and prints included in Cape Dorset and Beyond reflect the eye of the collectors and also encompass many of the recurring themes in contemporary Inuit art. They include a wide range of styles, from highly detailed and realistic to nearly abstract, and works by some of the best-known Inuit artists. Most of the pieces are by artists from Cape Dorset (Kinngait) on Baffin Island, but other communities from across Canada are represented as well, as is Anchorage, Alaska.
Carvings on display include a charming self portrait by Oviloo Tunnillie; five muskox, each carved by a different artist and exhibiting a distinct style; and an exquisite ‘dancing’ or preening goose by Pudlalik Shaa. Prints include a series of caribou by Kananginak Pootoogook as well as three prints by different artists, each printed by master printer Timothy Ottochie.