Qajaq USA Board Members



Richard examines a damaged qajaq in Sisimiut, Greenland.Richard Nonas is a long-time Greenland-style paddler, kayak replica builder and an even longer-time student of Northern cultures. Richard was a founder of New York City's free, community-based Downtown Boathouse.

"I am a sculptor. --But I was an anthropologist for ten years too, and lived with isolated hunting and trapping peoples in the western and eastern Canadian Arctic. My interest then was how hunter's lives were held together -the complicated ways that actions, beliefs, ideas and tools interacted with specific northern environments to make hard and fragmented lives whole."

"About five years ago my own native kayaks began to remind me of that old interest. And, surprisingly, they also forced me to see my own abstract sculpture in those cold northern terms. --Traditional kayaks, that is to say, brought me full-circle round; native life and history, kayak-focused life and practice, illuminated my own very western life. --I joined the still-forming Qajaq USA group. --I traveled North again. I made an exhibition that treated art as a kayak-like tool and replica kayaks as a strangely active kind of abstract art. --And I went to Greenland to find out more. --Not more about kayaks or even art, but just 'more': just Greenlandic more."

"Qajaq USA is also a way to find and honor that Inuit 'more', that full-chunk, still-changing Arctic 'more'. It is a way to use native boats and techniques to expand our own lives; yet it is also a way to honor the lives of the people who made and developed them."

"That emphasis on doubleness is what I want to bring to the Qajaq USA board, the double-edge of pleasure and responsibility. My great interest is in the complexity and interconnectedness of the kayak-culture we have only borrowed. --My interest is the close-knit mesh of Inuit 'more' that invests it: the intellectual and physical wholeness that in itself justifies our teaching, our building, our paddling and competing, our talking --justifies even the strange way of playing that defines us as Qajaq USA Greenland paddlers. "

Richard lives in New York City (Tribeca).

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