Pootoogook Jaw was born September 2, 1959 in Cape Dorset and currently resides in Iqaluit. The artist is part of the well-known Jaw Family of carvers. His parents, Mialia and Joe, were respected Cape Dorset artists and his brothers Mathew Saviadjuk, Kingwatsiak Jaw and Salomonie Jaw are considered master carvers, a distinction given to only a select few artists. Their work is marked by divergent styles and interests.
Jaw has been carving from an early age and learned his craft by watching his father along with other talented carvers in his South Baffin community. He is also considered a master carver and his brothers often refer to his influence on their own work. The pride Pootoogook takes when he sets blade to rock is revealed in his results. He uses a wide range of subjects in his work, and his style varies depending on the nature of the stone that he is dealing with. At times, his sculptures have multiple figures interacting and are almost obsessively detailed; at other times, particularly when working with very hard stones, his work is simpler and more iconic. Using indigenous serpentine from Baffin Island, Pootoogook follows the natural rhythms of the stone then highly polishes the piece to obtain a sensuous and evocative work of art. His quiet sense of humor often surfaces in his work.
Inuit Art is born of various regional styles, Cape Dorset is an internationally renowned producing community in Canada’s north. Rooted in a love of naturalism and an interest in wild life and the spirit world these unique sculptures incorporate the flamboyant, dramatic and decorative. Cape Dorset serpentine ranges in color from light yellow-green to black. Although a hard stone, in skilled hands the serpentine offers the opportunity to achieve flowing forms, lines bold and delicate, as well as glistening, elegant finishes. Sites for finding the stone are many miles east of Dorset.