Thomas Sockpick

Thomas Sockpick is a full-blooded Iñupiaq Eskimo born to Davis and Edna Sockpick in Nome, Alaska, on June 3, 1969. His father is from Shishmaref and his mother from Wales, another tiny village near Nome. His Eskimo name is Maqiaqtuq meaning “one without a diaper.”

Thomas attended school in Shismaref. The small community is noted for generations of traditional carvers, men who carve ivory, antler, whalebone and baleen. Thomas learned whalebone carving from his elders. He is noted for his masks and works primarily with the fossilized whalebone disks that are washed up on the beach after sloughed off the whale vertebrae through aging and weathering and are found on the beach, to craft them. His three-dimensional work, like his wonderful dancers, are carved on a full whale vertebra enabling him to carve a human face on both sides. He uses modern Dremel tools, adzes, files and drills to create his work.

Thomas considers himself a subsistence hunter and hunts seals and birds in their season. One hundred miles north of Nome, the land spit where Sishmaref is located has been under assault from stormy seas in recent years and has been rapidly eroding.

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