Whale Shaman Dancer, 2018, Jerome Saclamanna, Inupiaq, whalebone, baleen, pigment, 18" tall x 6" wide x 4" deep
This piece depicts a shaman in his Inua, or spiritual form, communicating with a whale. Before a hunt, the shaman would spiritually communicate with the animal, in this case the whales, in order to let them know the reverence the hunters have for them, and to ask for good bounty. The bone used to create this work is fossilized, and has the most incredible natural patina.
Jerome Saclamanna Biography
Born and raised in Nome, Alaska on July 20, 1963. He is Inupiaq. His parents were both born and raised on King Island.
"I started making my artwork from my dad and uncles carving when I was young. They would hand me a piece of ivory and show me how to make a seal. I would get a file and motor tools and they would show me which way to cut and file. I would watch and imagine the shape of the seals that we hunt and catch. Then in high school, I took an art culture class. There was a teacher who taught carving. I started making artwork because of my dad at home, I would watch him carve and after a certain amount of time he would hand me a piece. I started on things that were simple then I started on making masks, half man-seal shaman."
"My artwork holds a special meaning to me, my two or three pieces, mask shaman for instance, I would have a piece of ivory. I would sit with a pencil and come up with a half man half whale, something that is not so simple. I want them to be special, my own design and style. I primarily work with ivory, bone, old whale bone, old ivory mastodon or mammoth, and soapstone I would like to carve. I consider myself a carver rather than an artist I like to carve, after I am done, I try and make it as good as I can. The last couple of years I started getting into larger pieces but I have to buy bigger tools and bigger material so it is difficult to do it all the time." - Jerome Saclamanna