Adam Alorut’s Final Narwhal Tusk Sculpture


In collaboration with the celebrated sculptor Adam Alorut (1980-2020), artist Ruben Komangapik completed TUSK, a 77.5-inch-tall narwhal tusk, showcasing an extraordinary collaboration by two distinguished carvers. After beginning to carve the tusk, Alorut tragically passed away in 2020. The tusk eventually came into Komangapik’s possession, who completed it in honour of his late friend, Alorut. Renowned for his elaborate narwhal tusk carvings, Alorut pushed the boundaries of ivory sculpting in both technique and composition. His fifth and final tusk piece, commissioned by Feheley Fine Arts, now stands as his last work and final collaboration with Komangapik. Before his death, Alorut had discussed his plans for the tusk to close friend and fellow artist, Komangapik. Working within the natural spiral grain of the narwhal tusk, the piece depicts a transformation scene of humans and animals, swirling together upwards to the spike of the tusk. Komangapik created a stone base for the piece, a narwhal head sculpted in wonderstone, a type of volcanic rock sourced from the South, known for its range of ombré hues.

Ruben Komangapik (b. 1976) is an acclaimed Inuk artist known for his mixed media sculptures. Originating from Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet, NU), Komangapik demonstrates remarkable versatility as a jeweller, sculptor, metalworker, performing artist, and musician. Now based in Ontario, he infuses his work with a contemporary lens, drawing inspiration from traditional stories, legends, and songs passed down by his grandfather. His artwork is showcased in permanent collections throughout Canada and Europe, including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Adam Alorut was an Inuk sculptor who was known for his masterfully detailed sculptures. Born in Iqaluit, NU, in 1980, Alorut learned carving from his father, the celebrated sculptor Morris Alorut. Known for his use of stone and bone, Alorut frequently incorporated materials like silver, sinew, baleen, and ivory into his works. The incorporation of multiple materials, and his commanding compositions, are a few of the factors that gave Alorut his reputation for intricate detail. Alorut would define the smallest of details, individual pieces of hair, smile lines, fish scales, and other fine details.

Found at the base of the tusk is a man and woman, depicted in Alorut’s signature style, as they begin to transform. Seamlessly continuing Alorut’s vision, Komangapik completed the transformation of the humans into land animals, then sea animals, culminating in an intricately carved, tiny narwhal at the tusk’s point. This composition, originally planned by Alorut, visually narrates the Inuit legend of the creation of the narwhal.

In Inuit folklore, the narwhal was created from a mother drowned by her blind son while hunting for white whales. [1] The mother, known for her cruelty and mistreatment of her son, met her fate when he harpooned her and a white whale together. Dragging her into the depths of the sea, her braids twisted into a tusk, transforming her into the first narwhal. [1]

This piece is a tribute to creativity, heritage, and the friendship shared by two master carvers.

Source:
https://folklife.si.edu/talk-story/myth-and-matricide-how-the-narwhal-got-its-tusk