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Jewelry makers to open new shop

Laura Power
Northern News Services
Monday, August 6, 2007

IQALUIT - Two friends who met in college are putting their education to good use.

Matt Nuqingaq and Ruben Komangapik, both of Iqaluit, met in 1995 when they were both involved in the jewelry and metalwork program at Nunavut Arctic College.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Ruben Komangapik of Iqaluit works on a whalebone carving. Komangapik is one of the two men starting up a jewelry shop soon in Iqaluit. - Laura Power/NNSL photo

Both men come from an artistic background. Komangapik recalls growing up around his grandfather, Joshua Komangapik, who made everything from hunting tools to wooden furniture. It wasn't long before his father convinced him - not in the most conventional way - that he should try his hand at it.

"I kept asking my dad for money and he said 'here - make your own,'" he said with a laugh.

He soon began carving, especially with whalebone, and eventually developed an interest in making jewelry. At one point he was commissioned by the Nunavut Legislative Assembly to create art for the building.

In his second year at the school, he met Nuqingaq, who had begun teaching kindergarten so he could go to school part-time to pursue his own artistic dreams. He had previously been a teacher at a couple of Iqaluit schools, but eventually gave up teaching and took on his art as a full-time project.

Now the two men have partnered up to open a jewelry studio. The studio will be called Aayuraa Studio, Aayuraa meaning snow goggles or a crack in the ice.

The building, which is a two-bedroom house Nuqingaq said he bought some months ago, will mainly be used as a jewelry shop, but will also be used as a workshop for the artists. When renovations were finally finished a couple of weeks ago, the two artists got to work, but haven't yet opened.

"We didn't have the grand opening yet - we're too busy trying to get ready for the show," said Komangapik, referring to the Great Northern Arts Festival, where the two men exhibited and worked for some time in July.

"People have been asking a lot about a grand opening," said Nuqingaq, who said that while there is no date planned as of yet, he expects it to be a big celebration.