Marjorie Esa is amongst the many female artists of Baker Lake who were able to take advantage of the federal government’s arts and crafts initiatives. These were put in place to bolster the local economy. Two artists from Winnipeg, Jack and Sheila Butler, were hired to open a print shop in the late 1950’s, providing Marjorie and her fellow artists with a place to flourish.
Marjorie was one of the first to join the Butler’s shop and began learning to carve as well as draw. Her first carved subjects were miniature soapstone renditions of traditional tools used by the Central Arctic Inuit. Later, Marjorie moved on to making wall hangings out of wool duffel; however, her favourite medium became drawing, which she has done regularly since the mid 1960’s.
Baker Lake artists tend to have a very distinctive style. Marjoie, however, has deviated from that aesthetic in her prints, which are much more naturalistic. She prefers to draw birds and fish in flocks or individually. Working exclusively in coloured pencil, Marjorie is able to subtly and exquisitely blend colour, creating the appearance of light falling across feathers or scales.
Her beautiful drawings were mad into a series of sixteen prints by the Baker Lake Sanavik Cooperative from 1971 to 2000. Marjorie’s pieces appeared in the annual collection for a decade of that time. Typically, Marjorie did not involve herself in the printmaking aspect of her work, preferring instead to focus on drawing; however, she did aid in the printing of her pieces from1983 to 1984.
Marjorie has had exhibitions across Canada – at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, and the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre just to name a few.
Exhibition information available upon request.