On April 17, 2014 the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center will open “Cape Dorset and Beyond,” an exhibition of Canadian Inuit art recently donated to Bowdoin College by Marcia and Robert Ellis. The ceremony to open the exhibit and thank the donors will include a lecture by Susan A. Kaplan, director of the Arctic Museum. The 4:00 pm lecture will be in Kresge Auditorium in the Visual Arts Center on the Bowdoin College campus, and will be followed by a reception in Hubbard Hall when visitors will be able to tour the exhibit.
In the mid-1990s Marcia and Robert Ellis began purchasing Inuit art to display alongside an eclectic mix of art and antiques in their home. The number of Inuit carvings and prints grew as the couple found more and more Inuit art that they liked. 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 Ellises collected both realistic and abstract works, many by well-known Inuit artists such as Barnabus Arnasungaaq and David Ruben Piqtoukun. 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 a number of imaginative pieces with mythological and spiritual themes. Prints of animals, including a series by Kananginak Pootoogook featuring caribou, are on view as well.
In her illustrated lecture, “What is in Your Cabinet of Curiosities?” Kaplan will explore people’s fascination with collecting all sorts of objects from ceramic figurines of cows to impressionist paintings. Also, she will discuss the many lives of an object that, over the years, has had different owners.
The lecture, reception, and exhibit opening are free and open to the public.