Walrus, 2017, Edwin Noongwook, Siberian Yupik, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, 1.5 x 2 x 1.25 inches, walrus ivory.
Edwin Noongwook (also Nungwuk) was born July 29th, 1975 in Savoonga, Alaska, on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. He learned to carve from his elders, especially Alexander Akeya, who trained him how to best use his tools. Edwin also cites his cousin, Ron Apangalook, as an influence on his carving.
Inspired by the animals of Alaska, he depicts elegantly stylized cormorants, textured polar bears, spirit figures and shamans. Edwin’s treatment of his subjects are often beautifully simplified and elongated; he has a unique eye and a gift for drawing figures out of ivory or whalebone. He says his mood determines what he will make and has recently started carving entire walrus tusks.
Edwin is a subsistence hunter and still resides in the traditional Eskimo village of Savoonga. He has proved him self to be a formidable hunter as well, having already harpooned a whale, which is a feat for someone his age.
“The place where I grew up that shaped my artwork today was for me watching our way of life and stories past down from our elders.”