Eskimo and Inuit Art from the Collection of Thomas G. Fowler

Yua, Spirit of the Arctic: Eskimo and Inuit Art from the Collection of Thomas G. Fowler is a permanent installation in the Art of the Americas gallery that presents a selection of objects from the Arctic Circle. The collection was donated to the Museums by the late Thomas G. Fowler (1943–2006). Mr. Fowler visited Alaska many times during his life and amassed a comprehensive collection of works, the rarity and scope of which is unique in the Western United States.

The word yua means spirit or soul in the Yup’ik language. It reflects the widely shared concept among native peoples from the Arctic that all things in the natural world, even inanimate objects, possess a spirit or a soul that must be honored. The installation features nearly 100 objects which represent both the aesthetic and utilitarian sensibilities of Arctic life. The works date from approximately 300 BCE to the contemporary era and include charms, figurines, containers, tools, models, and cribbage boards. These objects are displayed alongside sculptures by such contemporary artists as Abraham Anghik Ruben, David Ruben Piqtoukun, Judas Ullulaq, and Susie Silook. The materials represented in the collection – wood, hide, sinew, and bone – reveal the resources available in and integral to the Arctic landscape.