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James A(rchibald) Houston (1921-2005) Biography - OBITUARY NOTICE—

art inuit eskimo april

See index for SATA sketch: Born June 12, 1921, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; died of complications following a heart attack April 17, 2005, in New London, CT. Artist and author. Houston, whose main subject as an artist was the Inuit of the Hudson Bay area, made a dramatic contribution to the art community by bringing the craftsmanship of Eskimo art to the world's attention. After attending Ontario Art College for two years and studying art in Paris, he served in the Canadian Army during World War II as part of the Toronto Scottish Regiment. With the war over, he returned home but after a few years grew restless. Chartering a small plane, he flew to an Inuit village and knew he had found a subject for his art. He began drawing the natives, often giving his work to the villagers. Pleasantly surprised when one Inuit gave him a small sculpture in exchange for his gift, he learned that the piece was a recent work, and not one of the antique sculptures archaeologist were already familiar with. Realizing the art community would be interested in his discovery, Houston proposed to the Inuit that they sell their artwork, a scheme that would greatly help a local economy devastated by the decline in the fur trade. Setting up the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative, Houston's idea took off, and many Inuit artisans have made a comfortable living selling their sculptures and other works of art. Houston remained in the Inuit village for fourteen years before taking a job with Steuben Glass in New York City in 1962. He worked as a master designer there until his death. In addition to his Eskimo-inspired glass sculpture and prints, Houston also wrote and illustrated children's books and wrote novels and nonfiction inspired by his Arctic experiences, many of which were award winners. Among his children's titles are Tikta'liktak: An Eskimo Legend (1965), The White Archer: An Eskimo Legend (1967), Long Claws: An Arctic Adventure (1981), and Whiteout (1988). His novels include Ghost Fox (1977) and The Ice Master: A Novel of the Arctic (1997).

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2005, p. B9.

New York Times, April 22, 2005, p. C14.

Washington Post, April 21, 2005, p. B5.

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (1934–) - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights, Autobiography FeatureJeanne Wakatsuki Houston [next]

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