Akunnittinni: A Kinngait Family Portrait
It is a rare opportunity for a museum audience this far south of the 49th parallel to experience the richness and narrative quality of Inuit art. Spanning three generations of artistic production and featuring the prints and drawings of Pitseolak Ashoona, Napachie Pootoogook and
Annie Pootoogook, Akunnittinni addresses the genealogy of a family of artists while offering insight into contemporary and historical daily life in the Arctic. The exhibition, curated by Andrea Hanley, gives each artist space in the intimate gallery to present their unique visual depiction of Inuit history, positioning a life lived on the land prior to settlement living alongside stories of the contemporary realities of Northern life. This arrangement gives the viewer the opportunity to appreciate the individual artists’ articulation of northern life and oral traditions.
Pitseolak Ashoona became an important figure in Inuit art after taking up drawing as means to support her family, producing over 9,000 drawings during her prolific twenty-year career. Here, a selection of the artist’s prints brilliantly demonstrate her mastery of line and composition and her ability to eloquently render the movement of a body through space. In Games of My Youth (1978), Pitseolak captures Inuit girls at play, two of whom are depicted playing an Inuit ball game, while a third is suspended mid-tackle with her playmate.
Unlike her mother, Napachie Pootoogook’s narrative imagery depicts a much harsher reality for Inuit women. She does not shy away from uncomfortable topics, and in doing so, challenges any idealized notions one might have of northern life. Alcohol abuse, the sexual exploitation of women, male dominance and cannibalism all find expression in this body of Pootoogook’s work. Rendered primarily in pen and coloured crayon on paper, these prints are
Pitseolak Ashoona (1904—1983 Cape Dorset) Dogs Eat the Seal 1981 Stonecut & stencil 42 x 48 cm All works collection Edward J. Guarino All courtesy Dorset Fine Arts Top: Annie Pootoogook (b. 1969 Cape Dorset) Family Sleeping in a Tent 2003-04 Coloured...