The de Young museum in San Francisco has announced that a new Inuit exhibition opened on August 28th. Called “Yua, Spirit of the Arctic: Eskimo and Inuit Art from the Collection of Thomas G. Fowler,” the exhibit displays artifacts and art objects dating from 2,500 years ago to the present.
The objects are from a private collection assembled by the late Thomas G. Fowler, a businessman, artist, and designer who had a strong interest in the Arctic peoples. Yua means spirit or soul, reflecting the Inuit concept that even inanimate objects from nature have spirits that should be respected.
The 100 or so objects in the exhibit are both utilitarian and aesthetic. Snow goggles, bowls, baskets, tools, and pipes complement such things as stone sculptures and animal carvings on whalebones and walrus tusks. Objects are practical, recreational and ceremonial. An interesting object is a cribbage board that is more than 100 years old, with a large number of animals that appear to be eating each other, perhaps symbolizing the cycle of life.
Thomas Fowler, who developed a graphic design business in Connecticut, started collecting Inuit art in the 1970s. He gradually built up a collection numbering 400 pieces. The exhibit in the de Young museum will be on view until December 31st.