Nelson Graburn presented in the Indigenous Arts in Transition Seminar on Wednesday, November 1, at 6 pm. His talk was entitled “Canadian Inuit Art: Variation Over Space and Time.”

This talk will employ Bard Graduate Center’s 2017–18 theme of “distance” to examine global indigenous arts, which is particularly appropriate for the discussion of Canadian Inuit arts. The Canadian Inuit traditionally lived many thousands of miles north of the majority of Canadians near the US border. When commercial arts were promoted in the 1940s and 50s, the cultural and aesthetic distance between Inuit producers and their White audience of buyers and museum goers was almost unbridgeable, but since then later generations of Inuit artists have bridged these geographical and artistic distances. This talk will draw upon three sources: the arts of the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic with whom Graburn worked in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s; the mainstreaming of many Inuit artists and their arts by moving to live in southern Canadian metropolises in the 1990s and 2000s, and by the “urbanization” of many major communities in the Arctic; and the recent attention to the arts of the Nunatsiavimiut, the Inuit of Labrador, which have been gathered by art historian and curator Heather Igloliorte into the exhibition SakKijâjuk (2016-), and which show the whole historic and aesthetic range of Inuit arts and crafts—from simple souvenirs, to sculptures and clothing, to postmodern photography.

Nelson Graburn is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Curator Emeritus at the Hearst Museum at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught since 1964. He has held visiting appointments at the National Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, Le Centre des Hautes Etudes Touristiques in Aix-en-Provence, the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in Osaka, the Research Center for Korean Studies, Kyushu National University in Fukuoka, the International Institute for Culture, Tourism and Development at London Metropolitan University, and the UF Rio Grande del Sol in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Graburn was educated in Classics at King’s, Canterbury, and Natural Sciences and Anthropology at Cambridge, McGill, and the University of Chicago. He has carried out ethnographic research with the Inuit of Canada, Alaska, and Greenland since 1959, in Japan (and East and Southeast Asia) since 1974, and in China since 1991.