ART GALLERY OF ALGOMA: Arctic Journeys / Ancient Memories – The Sculpture of Abraham Anghik Ruben


From June 6 to September 8, 2013

The Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA)’s 2013 exceptional summer exhibition, Arctic Journeys Ancient Memories, will be the first major Canadian exhibition of works by the internationally recognized Inuit artist since his solo show last year at the Smithsonian Institution’s American Indian Museum in Washington, D.C. In what promises to be a truly unique exhibition, visitors to the Art Gallery of Algoma will have the opportunity to discover Abraham Anghik Ruben’s exceptional sculptures, in an intimate setting.  Ruben invites viewers to explore his historical narrative on the cultural, social and spiritual life of two Arctic peoples: the Inuvialuit (Inuit) and the Norse. Opening on June 6, 2013, the exhibition is organized by The Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution in association with the Kipling Gallery and will run until September 8th, 2013.

Arctic Journeys Ancient Memories will feature some 20 masterfully carved sculptures in bone, stone, ivory and bronze from private and public collections. This exhibition offers the opportunity to view what has been one of the Smithsonian’s most successful exhibitions to-date attracting over 500,000 visitors.

Ruben grew up in Paulatuk in Canada’s Northwest Territories amongst a family of storytellers.  His maternal great-grandparents, who worked in the commercial whaling industry, had been respected for their shamanic abilities.  A wealth of cultural legends and beliefs were passed down to the children.  Ruben would draw on these oral histories; coupled with an interest in Norse mythology that was sparked by a circumpolar conference he attended in Irkutsk, Russia to result in the mixed stylization that he employs in his carvings.

Two Cultures Meet

In Arctic Journeys Ancient Memories Ruben attempts to tell stories of contact between of the ancient Inuit and Viking Norse from a thousand years ago.  Although there is little archeological record of this interaction, the artist uses the common practice of shamanism by these two circumpolar societies to transcend the cultural and geographical divides. The shaman serves as prophet and leader to the respective communities and is a central figure throughout his work.  This leadership is of significance today as the peoples of the Polar Regions face challenges in a changing environment. Ruben’s work is especially poignant as he uses ancient myths and legends in a contemporary fashion to convey his present feelings and concern.

Arctic Journeys Ancient Memories Sculpture by Abraham Anghik Ruben – the catalogue

The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue published by Arctic Studies Center, Department of Anthropology, National Museums of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and Abraham Anghik Ruben: Myths, Stories, Legends published by Kipling Gallery Publications.  They will be available for purchase at the Art Gallery of Algoma Gallery Shop as of June 6th, 2013.

Canadian Spirit, 2013 One with the North

The Art Gallery of Algoma acknowledges our partnership with the Canadian Spirit, 2013 project,, and is pleased to have this exhibition listed as a One with the North event.

Book a Tour & Picnic Lunch

During this exhibition the Art Gallery of Algoma will offer all guests a guided tour of the exhibition and a picnic lunch in the Sculpture Park, located adjacent to the Gallery. The total cost including the guided tour and lunch is $20/person, tax included. Pre-registration up to 2 days in advance is required and there is a 2 person minimum for the package. Credit card information is needed to reserve the booking. For more details contact Elena Lewis email: ; phone (705) 949-9067 ext. 107.

Media inquiries:

For more information, images or interviews please contact:

Jasmina JovanovicExecutive DirectorArt Gallery of Algoma

10 East Street

Sault Ste. Marie, ON




Rocco PanneseGallery DirectorKipling Gallery

7938 Kipling Avenue

Woodbridge, ON




More information:

Art Gallery of Algoma

Abraham Anghik Ruben

Kipling Gallery

Hazelton Galleries

Canadian Spirit, 2013 project