Helen Kalvak | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Helen Kalvak

Helen Kalvak, graphic artist (b on Victoria I, NWT 1901; d at Holman [Ulukhaktok], NWT 7 May 1984).
Assisted by Magic

Although Helen Kalvak only began to draw in her early sixties, she created over 3000 drawings vividly portraying the traditional life of the Copper Inuit. Kalvak showed a deep interest in spiritual traditions, and her drawings are rich with references to legends, shamanism and ceremonial life.

In the print Kidnapper (1973), Helen Kalvak portrays Arnakafaluk, the legendary woman who appears out of the sea to kidnap children who wander away from their parents' camp. A recurring theme in her work is the interrelationship between the human and animal worlds. In the print Don't Be So Noisy (1969), the festive spirit of a drum dance attracts the curiosity of a polar bear. Kalvak's drawings, interpreted in stone relief or stencil prints by the printmakers of Holman, have drawn international attention. She was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1975.

See also Inuit Art.