The Inuit Gallery of Vancouver’s fourth solo exhibition of Dene artist John Sabourin constitutes the culmination of the artist’s exploration of a story shared by his father. Calling Me Home is a collection that draws its inspiration from our complex relationships with the environment, with fellow living creatures, and with each other. From the weightlessness of Wind Rider, in which a beautifully wrought Raven soars over fluid, swirling eddies, to the monumentality of Sensing the Hunt, whose complex composition captures the totality of wildlife in the North, John’s sculptures touch the heart of what it means to exist within a community. We invite you to enjoy this remarkable collection of original artworks, and to reflect on the connections that often elude us in our daily lives.
“I come from a small community at the confluence of two beautiful northern rivers. The people of my community have experienced a lot of loss that has threatened the relationships that are fundamental to who we are. I grew up feeling unsure of myself, aimless and without purpose. But we come from a powerful place and the possibilities for healing are expressed in the very landscape. Whenever I am in particular need of reconnection, it is the animals who call me home.
The wolf features in the carvings I have prepared for this show. My father used to tell me a story about wrestling with a wolf. This wolf ventured right into my Dad’s camp, and crept up behind him as he sat at the fire. It was late fall and the night was pitch black but my Dad felt the wolf’s presence behind him. He turned with his rifle just as the wolf lunged. He and the wolf wrestled and my Dad was able to fend him off. We still have my father’s rifle with the wolf’s teeth marks in the wooden stock.
It is highly unusual for a wolf to venture into a man’s camp, let alone attack him. This story has always intrigued me and over the years, I have told myself many interpretations of this story. This time, in the creation of the pieces for this show, the struggle signifies a man wrestling with himself. Wrestling the human temptation to be free. To be free of all responsibilities. To think of ourselves as separate from everyone else and the natural world so we can travel unencumbered through life. And yet, to be unencumbered in this way is to be disconnected. We share responsibilities for others. We have to look out for the rest of the pack.
The wolf speaks of this kind of responsibility and of the spiritual connectedness humans are fortunate enough to share with all living creatures."