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Michael Massie recognized with Order of Canada for pushing boundaries in Inuit arts

Sporting his Order of Canada insignia, Michael Massie of Kippens is seen with Governor General Julie Payette after she conducted a ceremony invested him and a number of others into the order.
Sporting his Order of Canada insignia, Michael Massie of Kippens is seen with Governor General Julie Payette after she conducted a ceremony invested him and a number of others into the order. - Contributed

Michael Massie was honoured on Thursday for pushing the boundaries of Inuit art for people to look at things differently.

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The Kippens man was named a member of the Order of Canada in Ottawa.

“It was amazing for me to be in a room in the company of people that ranged from a nuclear physicist, scientists to musicians,” he said. “It flabbergasting, I must say.”

Massie was titled as a trailblazer for going against the grain and working with materials that in his early career were not considered for Inuit art, especially metals.

He said when he came on the scene in the 1980s with Inuit art, there were only three major mediums considered which included stone carving, print making and tapestry.

Massie challenged that by creating works that included metals and the backlash came from collectors and dealers, which made it tough for him.

“My whole concern was that they were restricting the arts and I had a focus for myself and younger people to think about different types of materials. My beef was that you just couldn’t call art just those three (materials),” he said.

Massie said nowadays young people are getting into painting, photography, digital art and cinematography, dance, theatre and music and he’s so pleased to see them expanding their horizons when it comes to indigenous arts.

It was back from 1986 to 1988 that Massie took a Visual Arts program in Stephenville, then moved on the major in jewelry in a four-year program at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

He went on to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to teach, then to Gjoa Haven, a hamlet in today’s Nunavut, a stint in Iqaluit in that territory, then back to Newfoundland at Port aux Basques before setting up his studio in Kippens.

Massie's silverwork and sculptures have received national and international accolades and his investiture to the Order of Canada in Ottawa makes his career and standing up for what he believed in worth it all.

He continues to work in his studio in Kippens, with a gallery in Vancouver taking his work. He plans to continue creating his silverware and sculptures that sell for up to five figures.

His work can be viewed at Michael Massie on the www.spiritwrestler.com website.

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