Hovak Johnston

Hovak Johnston

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Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Traditional Arts

An Inuk woman raised on the land in the Kitikmeot Region, Nunavut until she was sent away to school at age 7.  Even though she was able to go home during school breaks being away from her family for the majority of the year had a huge impact on her life.  From losing most of her language, to be sexually assaulted, she has been able to use what happened to her to help others.  She now prefers to use her Inuinnaqtun name given to her at birth as a way to carry on a past relatives name, the characteristics of that ancestor and to honour her culture.  Hovak has a deep connection to her culture and traditional arts and skills.  Now living in Yellowknife NWT, Hovak does some type of traditional artwork everyday; from sewing, soapstone carving, jewelry making, tanning hides, fleshing and preparing skins and her latest - traditional tattooing.

Hovak is a known artist who is well respected for the pride she puts into her work, her culture and her traditions.  The high quality of work and the use of traditional materials make her work stand out as one of the noticeable traditional artist around. Hovak also teaches school students part time on how to make traditional items.

Hovak’s most recent passion is spear heading a revival of the traditional Inuit tattoo’s by learning the modern and ancient methods of tattooing.  She has been working/planning on the Inuit Tattoo Revitalization Project for 9 years. In the past year threw the project she has either tattooed or has directly been responsible for the tattooing over 100 women, which includes more then tripling the number of Inuit women in Nunavut with facial tattoos.