Cover for Yua: Spirit of the Arctic: Highlights from the Thomas G. Fowler Collection
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)
Yua: Spirit of the Arctic: Highlights from the Thomas G. Fowler Collection
This superb collection of works by Native Alaskan and Canadian Inuit artists celebrates their creativity and skill while highlighting the history and culture of the Arctic.
By William Fitzhugh, Chuna Mcintyre, Hillary Olcott, David Ruben Piqtoukun, and Abraham Anghik Ruben
Designed by Yvonne Tsang
Published 2020 | ISBN: 9783791359458

Over the course of his life, artist, adventurer, and collector Thomas G. Fowler gathered a rich and diverse group of works by Native artists from the Arctic. He was inspired by the concept of yua, a recognition that all things, including objects, have a unique inner essence or spirit. The works in his collection embody this view and highlight the raw materials used to make them—walrus tusk, whale bone, driftwood, stone—evoking the Arctic environment and attesting to Fowler’s appreciation of form and design. With works dating from 300 BCE to the 21st century, his collection includes objects meant to be used and admired: utensils, weapons, dance regalia, kayak models, decorative pipes, and cribbage boards. It also features dynamic, mixed-media sculptures by contemporary artists such as Abraham Anghik Ruben, David Ruben Piqtoukun, Judas Ullulaq, and Susie Silook. With color illustrations highlighting eighty objects, this book explores a variety of topics relating to the North American Arctic region: the ancient cultures of the Bering Strait, historic ways of life in northwestern Alaska, the ethos of Yup’ik dance, and the history of collecting Arctic art. Combining art historical and anthropological essays with lively, personal accounts from modern artists and scholars, the volume explores the connection between humans and the environment, the interwoven nature of the spiritual and the quotidian, and the aesthetics of Arctic life.