Martha Tickie (Tickiq)

Baker Lake, Nunavut Territory, Canada

(1939-2015)

 

“I really love to make carvings. I learn new things all the time and I like to experiment on my own. Sometimes it takes two or three days to find a solution. My grandfather taught me how to carve when we lived on the Kazan River. He would carve soapstone pots for cooking meat. I have many jobs besides carving because I like to be independent. I carve from March to August but I take July off. I built myself a cabin at Prince River and that’s where I go in July.”

— artist’s statement, 1992

Excerpt courtesy Inuit Art Section, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), 1997.

Martha Tickie was born in 1939 and was predominantly influenced by the 1950s growing up. It can be said that the 1950s were dominated by Abstract Expressionism, a form of painting that prioritised expressive brushstrokes and expressed ideas about organic nature, spirituality and the sublime. Much of the focus was on the formal techniques of painting, and ideas of action painting were conflated with the political freedom of the United States society as opposed to the strict nature of the Soviet bloc. In the Post-War period the lens of modernism was focused, in terms of internationally, on developments in New York City. The Second World War had brought many leading creatives to the city in exile from Europe, leading to a substantial pooling of talent and ideas. Important Europeans that came to New York and provided inspiration for American artists included Piet Mondrian, Josef Albers and Hans Hoffmann, who between them set the grounds for much of the United States’ explosive cultural growth in the decades thereafter. Important artists of the Abstract Expressionist Generation included Jackson Pollock (who innovated his famed drip, splatter and pour painting techniques), Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Frank Kline, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still and Adolph Gottlieb. It was a male dominated environment, though necessary reassessment of this period has highlighted the contributions of female artists such as Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and Louise Bourgeois, amongst others.

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