SARAH MEEKO NASTAPOKA (1925-d) INUKJUAK (PORT HARRISON
Kneeling Woman Mending A Kamik, c. early 1960s
stone, 12.5 x 7.25 x 9.5 in (31.8 x 18.4 x 24.1 cm)
inscribed with disc number, "E9 1519" and signed, "ᓯᐊᔭ".
Estimate: $6,000— $9,000
Private Collection, Vancouver.
Sarah Meeko Nastapoka was the younger of Abraham Nastapoka's two wives. Both Nastapoka and Meeko began carving in 1950 and usually worked together; she continued carving even after her husband retired in 1974 due to ill health, working in a private carving studio. Interestingly, Meeko was one of only a few women in Inukjuak to become a professional sculptor; she is the only female sculptor featured in Darlene Wight's Early Masters exhibition and catalogue.
By the early 1960s Sarah Meeko, like her male peers, had developed her mature carving style. As with other masterpieces including her iconic Mother and Child (see first reference), Kneeling Woman Mending A Kamik beautifully conveys serenity, wellbeing, and solidity. The woman has stopped working for a moment to fully engage the viewer; it's a strikingly confident gaze. The sculpture has many lovely details, the most distinctive being that the woman's hair is braided on the right side only, before wrapping around to form a beautiful bun. It's a fitting hairstyle for an independent-minded woman.
References: For a quite similar work by the artist see Loveland Museum Gallery, Survival: Inuit Art (Loveland, CO, 2004), p. 15; also illustrated in Walker's Auctions, May 2016, Lot 5. Two superb early mother and child sculptures by the artist (c. 1950 and c. 1953) are illustrated in Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955 (WAG, 2006), pp. 77-78.