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Alabaster, wood and moose horn; sculptor Arthur lack has used them all to create his intricately detailed works of art Although each medium has proven well suited for his work, Jack has a preference for stone. "Wood and horn have size limitations," he says. And as a rule, Jack prefers not to be fettered by size when creating his sculpture.
His work ranges in size from pieces easily held in one hand to larger-than-life size His sculptures generally depict wildlife with a preference for action-type figures of eagles, buffalos and wolves that incorporate Plains Cree mythology.
Arthur Jack began carving at a very young age. He remembers having no birthday present for his mother when he was growing up in the small community of Beauval, Saskatchewan. So, the ingenious young man carved her an eagle out of a small piece of cedar. After his success with this project, the nine-year-old followed in his father's footsteps and began carving totem poles. "My first totem pole was about a foot high," he recalls. Soon totem poles were not enough for him and he branched out into other areas. He was given a piece of stone at one point and he carved a white buffalo out of it. "I started off from there," he says. His first attempts in stone were a little "rough looking". People appreciated their inherent beauty and design but, he says, were more attracted to stone pieces that were shiny. As a self-taught artist, he was pleased when fellow sculptor Lloyd Pinay showed an interest in his talent and offered him some hints on finishing details.
Jack says that he is still developing technique and is making progress bringing out the features in the stone that he visualizes as part of the finished piece. He laughs and says that he used to think sculptors who looked at the stone and "saw" the finished piece were crazy. But he says that he has now become one of them, envisioning the end result in a chunk of untouched stone. "It comes like a flash and it looks so real," he explains. "I just have to carve it right away."
For five years now, Jack has followed his instincts about sculpting and made it his full-time occupation. "You have to be really dedicated to make it your sole source of income," he says. Although there have been many good times, he also speaks of the struggles he has had over the past few years. "To be realistic, there's a lot of tears," he says. Many times he has worked 16-hour days for two or three weeks on end. And, occasionally, he has not sold a single piece for a few months.
However, he refuses to give in to any form of rejection. Jack considers his struggles to be a measure of his endurance. He is sure that, in the end, his perseverance will bring equal rewards. He is grateful for the in-roads he has made and for the support of his wife and three children. "Who can ask for anything else?" he asks. "I'm blessed."
His positive attitude seems to be paying off as more and more people are becoming aware of this talented sculptor and are supporting his work. Jack has had small showings of his work in Saskatoon and a larger show in Lloydminster. Word of mouth and his reputation for producing high quality pieces are his current methods of marketing. It appears to be working as he has sold his sculptures throughout Saskatchewan, Canada and the United States.
More information on Arthur Jack and his sculptures is available at (306) 668-8068.