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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 21, 2002 - Issue 70


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credits: "Loons Protect The Owl", "Nunavut Qajanartuk (Our Beautiful Land)", "Vibrant Young Owl"

KENOJUAK ASHEVAKKenojuak is the most revered Inuit artist living in Canada today. Her imaginative drawings, prints and carvings are sought the world over and reflect her experiences and life in the North. "Drawing out of your imagination is a lot better to me anyway. What you see in your head is what you try to put on drawing...I try to make mine look attractive enough." While her imagery is varied, she is best known for her eloquently designed animals and birds, especially the Owl.

Like many Cape Dorset artists, Kenojuak spent most of her life living on the land in a manner not unlike that of her ancestors. Born at the south Baffin Island camp known as Ikirisaq in the fall of 1927, she grew up travelling from camp to camp on south Baffin and Arctic Quebec. Her family were hunters and trappers and moved from place to place depending on the availability of food. She lived in an igloo icehouse during the winter while travelling, but preferred the humuq or winterized tent which was insulated with moss and heated with a kudlik or stone lamp that burned seal oil.

As a very young woman, Kenojuak was married to Johnniebo and lived with him in various camps including Keakto, a scenic area of rolling hills and inland lakes near Cape Dorset. While living at Keakto in the late 1950s, both Kenojuak and Johnniebo first experimented with carving in stone and drawing when encouraged by James Houston, the Federal Government's administrator for the area. They moved to Cape Dorset in 1966 to be nearer schools for their children and continued to work closely together until Johnniebo's untimely death in 1972. Kenojuak and her children still live and work in Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories.

Nunavut Qajanartuk (Our Beautiful Land)Kenojuak's work has been represented in the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative 's annual print collection since 1959 and has been shown in numerous exhibitions in Canada, the United States and in Europe since that time. Her work has been included in many private and public collections and she has received several special commissions including this latest "Radiant Owl" edition for the Artists For Kids Trust.

Kenojuak Ashevak has received many special honours over the years. In 1961she was the subject of a film produced by the National Film Board of Canada and in 1967, she received the Order of Canada. In 1970, she and Johnniebo collaborated on a mural for the Canadian Pavilion at Expo'70 in Osaka, Japan. The same year, her print Enchanted Owl was reproduced on a stamp commemorating the centennial of the Northwest Territories. In 1992 Kenojuak was awarded Honorary degrees from both Queens University and the University of Toronto and in 1995, she received the Lifetime Aboriginal Achievement Award in Vancouver. Kenojuak is truly a living national treasure.

Loons Protect The Owl
Vibrant Young Owl

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