Kenojuak Ashevak RCA
(1927 – 2013)
Kenojuak Ashevak was one of Canada’s most acclaimed graphic artists. Her long list of achievements and honours is surpassed only by her stamina and good humour.
Born on south Baffin Island at a camp area known as Ikirisaq, Kenojuak grew up traveling from camp to camp on south Baffin and in Nunavik until eventually settling in Cape Dorset in 1966. Kenojuak began experimenting with drawing in the late 1950’s and her drawings were immediately captivating. She was represented in almost every annual print collection since 1959 and her work has also been included in numerous special projects and commissions.
Her designs strongly focused on bold graphic representations of birds and other creatures, alongside female hunters. With a career spanning half a century, she worked primarily with drawing mediums such as pen, ink, and prismacolour pencils. She also practiced printmaking, stained glass, sewing, and carving.
From her humble beginnings she emerged to become regarded as one of the most notable pioneers of modern Inuit art. Kenojuak has had over 200 exhibitions in Canada, the United States, Japan, Holland, Greenland, South Korea, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, France and Germany. She received every conceivable award and honour that any Canadian could acquire in the arts. Her imagery has been displayed on Canadian stamps and coins, her life portrayed in books and films, and her art sought all over the world by collectors, corporations and museums. Over the years, she received commissions to produce images for institutions, charities, cultural events and celebrations, as well as becoming the first Inuit to design a stained-glass window for a chapel in Ontario. Her 1960 print Enchanted Owl has become an iconic image in Canadian art and her 1959 print Rabbit Eating Seaweed is one of the rarest images in Inuit art.
Kenojuak traveled all over the world as an ambassador for Inuit art and has been a role model to a generation of young artists. In her later years she worked collaboratively with other artists, combining aquatint with etching and eventually creating lithographs in which colour is overlaid using computers. In January, 2013, after a long and illustrious career, Kenojuak died peacefully at home surrounded by her loving family.
Honours and Achievements:
1974 Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
1982 Companion of the Order of Canada
2001 Inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame
2008 Governor Generals Award in Visual and Media Arts
Honorary Doctorate from Queens University and the University of Toronto
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec, Canada
Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection 1959 – 1999, Cape Dorset, NWT, Canada
Department of Foreign Affairs, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Inuit Cultural Institute, Rankin Inlet, NWT, Canada
McMaster University Art Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada
Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Rothmans Permanent Collection of Eskimo Sculpture, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Swinton Collection, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Tate Gallery, London, England
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada