Treasure trove of Inuit art found in rundown Detroit house

It’s among the last places you’d expect to find valuable Inuit artwork. But in an old, dilapidated house in Detroit new homeowners did just that.

“My husband and his business partner flip homes and, several months ago, they came into possession of a home that was very badly water-damaged,” said Tamara Noskov, whose husband Andrey is one of the home’s owners.

Abandoned inside however, were about 40 prints, two dozen of which were original and signed by artists from Kinngait (formerly Cape Dorset), Nunavut, including the renowned Kenojuak Ashevak.
The home had been sitting empty for years. When the previous owner died, his family sold the house and some of its contents.

The home had been sitting empty for years. When the previous owner died, his family sold the house and some of its contents.

“As we slowly went through it, we realized that they were actually some very valuable and interesting pieces,” said Noskov, who was tasked with taking care of the artwork.

“Some of the most beautiful and precious pieces were found in the garage, under garbage, under rotten paper and all different types of things,” she said. “Maybe they just didn’t know what they had in their hands.”

The prints are from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Kinngait, a hamlet on the southern tip of Baffin Island.

The co-operative distributes its prints, drawings and sculptures to museums and private collectors. In 2018, it opened the Kenojuak Cultural Centre, a community hub, studio and exhibition space.

William Huffman, marketing manager of the co-op’s Toronto office, said it’s incredible how prolific the organization’s artists have been.

What’s more, he said, “the monetary value of this work is exploding.”

Though some of the prints have tears and wrinkles, Charara says most can be saved.

After discovering the prints, Noskov posted about them in a Facebook group called Inuit Art Enthusiasts and received a flurry of comments.

She then reached out to a Adnan Charara, a family friend and the owner of Galerie Camille in downtown Detroit.

“[Charara] is going to help us find the best owners for these beautiful pieces,” said Noskov, after having some of them restored.

“Some are really damaged,” Charara said. “They have mould, they have a lot of stains.”

source: cbn.ca

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