Isa Smiler was one of an original group of artists to carve pieces for James Houston back in the late 1940s on his first visit to Inukjuak (Inoucdjouac). At James's encouragement, Isa continued to carve small hunting figures and animals. He began exhibiting in 1955 and continued to be represented in numerous exhibitions throughout his life. His sculptures are included in many Canadian and American museum collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as being referenced in many books and publications on early Inuit art.
“Born in Inukjuak, Isa was always a hunter, trapper and a fisherman who lived off the land. He began carving in 1948, after Jim Houston had been on a visit to the settlement. His favourite subjects were the Arctic animals of his environment, especially otters. Isa signed his work with his disc number (E9-706), syllabics or Isa. S.” (*from “The Inuit Artists of Inoucdjouac, P.Q.”, 1978. Excerpt courtesy Inuit Art Section, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), 1997).