Ningiukulu Teevee

Legend of Qalupalik, 2011
20″ x 24″
Stone lithograph

Ningiukulu Teevee is a graphic artist and writer living in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut. She is one of the most versatile and intelligent graphic artists to emerge from the Kinngait Studios, and is the daughter of Joanasie Salomonie (deceased) and his wife, Kanajuk. Her father, Joanasie, was a community leader much loved in Cape Dorset for his sense of humour, mischief, and compassion. She has a comprehensive knowledge of Inuit legends and her drawings and prints uniquely capture and distill these stories, with a playful translation of traditional stories into dynamic compositions. These elements that have made many of her prints highly sought after by collectors. Teevee has had numerous solo shows of her bold and resplendent drawings and some of her work has been featured in exhibitions in major public galleries and museums.

The legend of the Qalupalik comes from the Inuit people and their icy, arctic waters. Unlike many other mythical mermaids, there is nothing attractive about the Qualupalik. They are described as aquatic humanoids with scaly, bumpy skin. Their hands, though webbed, are clawed and made for the hunt. Most haunting is what they carry – an amautik. Amautiks are commonly worn by Inuit women to secure their babies to their backs. The Qalupalik carry amautiks so they can snatch small Inuit children, and Inuit parents warn their children frequently about these dreadful creatures. But what do the Qualupalik do with the stolen children? Some say they eat them but other legends say they take them away to a cave and put them under a sleeping spell. They feed on the young, innocent energy to remain immortal. Like many creatures from folklore Qualupalik serves a utilitarian purpose in the harsh environment of what is now Northern Alaska and Canada. By scaring the children out of wanting to be alone or going too close to sea ice or the shore they lowered the chances that the child would venture near those dangerous places.