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Pitseolak Ashoona

 (1904 - 1983)
Pitseolak Ashoona was active/lived in Nunavut / Canada.  Pitseolak Ashoona is known for Inuit culture drawings, graphic design, printmaking.

Biography  
Pitseolak Ashoona


Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Pitseolak Ashoona
Pitseolak Ashoona CM, RCA (1904 - 1983)

An important Inuit graphic artist and printmaker, Pitseolak Ashoona (aka: Pitseolak, aka: E71100*) was born on Nottingham Island (south-west of Baffin Island), Northwest Territories, Canada and died in Cape Dorset (Baffin Island), Nunavut. She is discussed in virtually every comprehensive Inuit Art* history book, her drawings and prints have been included in dozens of major exhibitions, and her works are in numerous museum collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the British Museum.


The following is courtesy of the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative*.

Pitseolak Ashoona was born on Nottingham Island circa 1904 in what is now known as Nunavut. She married Ashoona, a hunter, in 1922. Four of her surviving children became artists: sons Kumwartok, Qaqaq and Kiawak Ashoona and daughter Napachie Pootoogook [see all in AskART]. In the early 1950's the Civil Administrator of west Baffin Island, James Houston [see AskART], introduced the techniques of printmaking to the Inuit. Pitseolak Ashoona began working in the late 1950's; she produced over 7,000 drawings during her career. The subject matter in her work often depicted the traditional ways of Inuit life before contact with Europeans. Ashoona was also well known for experimenting with landscape in her prints. In 1971, she narrated the story of her life in the National Film Board's animated documentary Pitseolak: Pictures Out of My Life. She was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy [of Arts] in 1974 and a Member of the Order of Canada [CM] in 1977.


EXHIBITIONS
According to our published sources (see book references) and the E.P.Taylor Research Library & Archives (Art Gallery of Ontario), Pitseolak Ashoona's works have been in numerous major exhibitions such as the following: "Cape Dorset - A Decade of Eskimo Prints & Recent Sculpture", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1967); "The Woodget Collection of Eskimo Art and Artifacts", Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Art, Halifax, Nova Scotia (1970); "The Art of the Eskimo", Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. (1971); "Eskimo Carvings and Prints from the Collection of York University", Art Gallery of York University, Downsview, Ontario (1971); "Eskimo Art", Queens Museum, Flushing, New York (1974); "Shamans and Spirits: Myths and Medical Symbolism in Eskimo Art", National Museum of Man, Ottawa, [renamed Canadian Museum of Civilization in 1986] (1976 - 1981); "Contemporary Eskimo Prints and Sculpture", Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Forth Worth, Texas (1977); "The Inuit Print", National Museum of Man, Ottawa (1977 - 1982); "The Coming and Going of the Shaman: Eskimo Shamanism and Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery*, Manitoba (1978); "Polar Vision: Canadian Eskimo Graphics", Jerusalem Artists' House Museum, Israel (1978); "Inuit Art in the 1970s", Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Ontario (1979); "Eskimo Narrative", Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1979); "Canadian Eskimo Art: A Representative Exhibition from the Collection of Professor and Mrs. Philip Gray", Fine Arts Gallery, Montana State University, Bozeman (1979); "Images of the Inuit", Simon Fraser University Gallery, Burnaby, B.C. (1979 - 1981); "Inuit Graphics", Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (1980); "The Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art", University of Guelph, Ontario (1980); "The Inuit Amautik: I like my hood to be full", Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1980); "The Inuit Sea Goddess", Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (1980); "The Jacqui and Morris Shumiatcher Collection of Inuit Art", MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (1981); "Eskimo Games: Graphics and Sculpture", National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome, Italy (1981); "Cape Dorset Engravings", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1981 - 1983); "Inuit Art: A Selection of Inuit Art from the Collection of the National Museum of Man, Ottawa, and the Rothmans Permanent Collection of Inuit Sculpture, Canada", Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec (1981); "Inuit Masterworks", McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinberg, Ontario (1983); "Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art of Canada", General Assembly Building, United Nations, NYC (1983); "Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1983 - 1985); "Cape Dorset Prints: Twenty-Five Years", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1984); "The Oral Tradition", National Museum of Man, Ottawa, Ontario (1984); "Stones, Bones, Cloth, and Paper", Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta (1984 - 1985); "From Drawing to Print: Perceptions and Process in Cape Dorset Art", Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta (1986); "Contemporary Inuit Art", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1986); "Contemporary Inuit Drawings", Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, Ontario (1987 - 1988); "In the Shadow of the Sun: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art in Canada", Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec and touring (1988 - 1989); "Cape Dorset Printmaking 1959 - 1989", McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (1989); "Spoken in Stone: An Exhibition of Inuit Art", Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Alberta (1989); "A New Day Dawning: Early Cape Dorset Prints", University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1989); "Mother and Child", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1989); "Inuit Graphic Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery*, Manitoba (1989); "Inuit Art from the Glenbow Collection", Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta (1990); "Arctic Mirror", Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec (1990); "Sojourns to Nunavut: Contemporary Inuit Art from Canada", Bunkamura Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (1991); "In Cape Dorset We Do It This Way: Three Decades of Inuit Printmaking", McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (1991 - 1992); "Inuit Art: Drawings and Recent Sculpture", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1992); "Cape Dorset Revisited", McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (1994); "Arctic Spirit: 35 Years of Canadian Inuit Art", Frye Art Museum, Seattle (1994); "Inuit Women: Life and Legend in Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1995 - 1996); "Qiviuq: A Legend in Art", Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa (1995 - 1996); "Three Women, Three Generations: Drawings by Pitseolak Ashoona, Napatchie Pootoogook and Shuvinai Ashoona", McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (1999); "Face Forward: Six Canadians Confront the Millennium", Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta (2000); "The School of Women", Joliette Art Museum, Quebec (2003 - 2004); "Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum", Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona (touring the USA 2006 - 2011); and "Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection", at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011).

She was also posthumously honored with the exhibition "Pitseolak Ashoona: Joys of Life and Art" which was shown at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa from November 1996 to April 1997.


MUSEUMS
According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, her works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton, New Brunswick), British Museum (London, England), Canadian Museum of Civilization (Gatineau, Quebec), Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Dalhousie Art Gallery (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Alberta), Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona), Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), Laurentian University Museum and Arts Centre (Sudbury, Ontario), Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), Maltwood Museum (University of Victoria, B.C.), McMaster Museum of Art (Hamilton, Ontario), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Museum of Anthropology (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology ( Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts), Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C.), The Dennos Museum Center Traverse City, Michigan, Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), University of Alberta Art Collection (Edmonton, Alberta), University of Lethbridge Art Gallery (Lethbridge, Alberta), University of New Brunswick Art Centre (Fredericton, NB), Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Alberta), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).
 
BOOK REFERENCES

"Hidden in Plain Sight: Contributions of Aboriginal Peoples to Canadian Identity and Culture, Volume 2" (2011), edited by Core J. Voyageur, David R. Newhouse, Dan Beavon; (University of Toronto Press (434 pgs., some color)

"Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection" (2011), edited by Gerald McMaster; Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver (271 pgs., Color) - Catalogue of an exhibition

"Inuit Shamanism and Christianity: Transitions and Transformations in the Twentieth Century" (2010), by Frédéric B. Laugrand and Jarich G. Oosten; McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal (467 pgs., B&W)

"The Visual Arts in Canada: The Twentieth Century" (2010), by Brian Foss, Anne Whitelaw and Sandra Paikowsky (see AskART book references)

"Restoring the Balance: First Nations Women, Community, and Culture" (2009), edited by Gail Guthrie Valaskakis, Madeleine Dion Stout and Eric Guimond; University of Manitoba Press, Winnipeg (379 pgs., some color)

"Art Without Borders: A Philosophical Exploration of Art and Humanity" (2009), by Ben-Ami Scharfstein; University of Chicago Press, Chicago (543 pgs., B&W)

"Sanattiaqsimajut: Inuit Art from the Carleton University Art Gallery Collection" (2009), Ingo Hessel and Sandra Dyck; Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa (232 pgs., color)

"Images of Justice: a legal history of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut as traced through the Yellowknife Courthouse collection of Inuit sculpture" (2008), by Dorothy Eber; McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal (223 pgs., B&W)

"Canadian Paintings, Prints and Drawings" (2007), by Anne Newlands (see AskART book references)
"A to Z of American Indian Women" (2007), by Liz Sonneborn; Infobase Publishing, New York (320 pgs., B&W)

"This Song Remembers: Self-portraits of Native Americans in the Arts" (1980), edited by Jane B. Katz. Houghton Mifflin (207 pgs., B&W)

"Inuit Women: Their Powerful Spirit in a Century of Change" (2007), by Janet Mancini Billson and Kyra Mancini; Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Md.  (461 pgs., B&W)

"Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum" (2006), by Ingo Hessel; Heard Museum, Phoenix and Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver (240 pgs., color)

"Presenting and Representing Environments" (2005), edited by Graham Humphrys and Michael Williams; Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands (218 pgs., B&W)

"The Inuit" (2005) By Natalie M. Rosinsky; Capstone Press, Canada (48 pgs., color)

"100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces" (2004), by Merna Forster; Dundurn Group, Toronto (319 pgs., B&W)

"Vision and Form: the Norman Zepp-Judith Varga Collection of Inuit Art" (2003), by Robert Kardosh; Marion Scott Gallery, Vancouver (172 pgs., color)

"Biographical Index of Artists in Canada" (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

"Inspiring Women: A Celebration of Herstory" (2003), edited by Mona Holmlund, Gail Youngberg Coteau Books, Regina (276 pgs., B&W)

"Treasures of the National Gallery of Canada" (2003), edited by David Franklin; National Gallery of Canada / Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn (288 pgs., color)

"Canadian Art: From its Beginnings to 2000" (2002), by Anne Newlands (see AskART book references)

"Transitions 2: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art of Canada" (2001), by Barry Pottle and Ryan Rice; Published by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (33 pgs., color)

"The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction" (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

"Inuit Art: A History" (2000), by Richard C. Crandall; McFarland & Company Inc., Jefferson, NC (420 pgs., all text)

"Celebrating Inuit Art: 1948 - 1970" (1999), edited by Maria Von Finckenstein; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec (191 pgs., color)

"Unpacking Culture: Art and Commodity in Colonial and Postcolonial Worlds" (1999), edited by Ruth Bliss Phillips and Christopher Burghard Steiner; University of California Press, Berkley (424 pgs., B&W)

"Inuit Art: An Introduction" (1998), by Ingo Hessel and Dieter Hessel; Harry N. Abrams, New York (198 pgs., some color)

"Saint James Guide to Native North American Artists" (1998), by Roger Matuz; St. James Press, (691 pgs., text)

"Contemporary Canadian Artists" (1997), edited by Roger Matuz; Gale Canada, Scarborough, Ontario (627 pgs., B&W)

"Undisciplined Women: Tradition and Culture in Canada" (1997), edited by Pauline Greenhill and Diane Tye; McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal (306 pgs., B&W)

"Making Art Work in Cape Dorset" (1997) by Shannon Bagg;  Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa (44 pgs., B&W)

"Female Gazes: Seventy-Five Women Artists" (1997), by Elizabeth Martin and Vivian Meyer; Second Story Press, Toronto (176 pgs., color)

"A to Z of Canadian Art: artists & art terms" (1997), by Blake McKendry (see AskART book references)

"Qiviuq: A Legend in Art" (1996), by Jennifer Gibson; Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa (54 pgs., B&W)

"North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary" (1995), by Jules Heller and Nancy G. Heller; Taylor & Francis, New York (612 Pgs., B&W)

"Epic of Qayaq: The Longest Story Ever Told by My People" (1995), by Lela Oman; Carleton University Press, Ottawa (119 pgs., color)

"Contemporary Native American Artists" (1995), by Dawn E. Reno; Alliance Publishing Company, Brooklyn, N.Y. (230 pgs., B&W)

"Handbook of Native American Literature" (1994), by Andrew Wiget; Garland, New York/London (598 pgs. Text)

"Arctic Expressions: Inuit Art and the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council, 1961 - 1989" (1994), Susan Gustavison: McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ont. (142 pgs., color)

"Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary" (1993) edited by Gretchen M. Bataille and Laurie Lisa; Garland, New York (333 pgs., B&W)

"Inuit: Contemporary Inuit Drawings" (1993), by Judith Nasby; Muscarelle Museum of Art, Williamsburg, Va (64 pgs., some color)

"Biographies of Inuit Artists" (1993), compiled and published by the Inuit Art Section, Indian and Northern Affairs, Canada (4 volumes all text)

"In the Shadow of the Sun: Perspectives on Contemporary Native Art" (1993), edited by the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec (538 pgs., B&W)

"The Peoples of Canada: A Post-Confederation History" (1992), by J.M. Bumsted; Oxford University Press, Don Mills, Ontario (581 pgs. B&W)

"By A Lady" (1992), by Maria Tippett (see AskART book references)

"Art and Architecture in Canada" (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

"In Cape Dorset We Do it This Way: Three Decades of Inuit Printmaking" (1991), by Jean Blodgett; McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg (144 pgs., some color)

"When the Whalers Were Up North: Inuit Memories from the Eastern Arctic" (1989), by Dorothy H. Eber; D.R. Godine, Boston (187 pgs., B&W)

"Inuit Art: An Anthology" (1988), by Alma Houston, et al; Watson & Dwyer Publishing, Winnipeg (128 pgs., B&W and color)

"New Directions in American Indian History" (1988), edited by Colin Gordon Calloway; University of Oklahoma Press, Norman (262 pgs., B&W)

"Northern Voices: Inuit Writing in English" (1988) edited by Penny Petrone; University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ont. (314 pgs., B&W)

"The Canadian Encyclopedia" Second Edition (1988), edited by James H. Marsh; Hurtig Publishers Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta (4 volumes, 2736 total pages, some color)

"Works from the McCuaig Collection in the Laurentian University Museum" (1987), by Pamela Krueger; Laurentian University Museum and Arts Centre, Sudbury, Ont. (56 pgs., B&W)

"Contemporary Inuit Drawings" (1987), by Marion E. Jackson and Judith M. Nasby; Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph (118 pgs., some color)

"Winnipeg Collects: Inuit Art from Private Collections" (1987), by Darlene Wight; The Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Man. (48 pgs., B&W) - exhibition

"The Art Collection of McMaster University: European, Canadian and American Paintings, Prints, Drawings and Sculpture" (1987), by Kim G. Ness; McMaster University Press, Hamilton, Ont. (328 pgs., some color)

"The Canadian Encyclopedia" (1985), edited by James H. Marsh; Hurtig Publishers Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta (3 volumes, 2089 total pages, some color)

"Arctic Vision: Art of the Canadian Inuit" (1984), by Barbara Lipton; Canadian Arctic Producers, Ottawa (107 pgs., color)

"Canadian Literary Landmarks" (1984), by John Robert Colombo; Hounslow Press, Willowdale, Ont., (318 pgs., B&W)

"Made in Canada IV: Artists in Books" (1984), by Liana Van der Bellen; National Library of Canada, Ottawa, Ont. (42 pgs., color)

"Inuit Art Section: Catalogue of Services and Collections" (1984), Research and Documentation Centre on Inuit Art; Indian and Northern Affairs, Canada (unpaginated, loose-leaf-binder, some B&W)

"Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art" (1983), by Jean Blodgett; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (271 pgs., some color) - exhibition catalogue

"The McMichael Canadian Collection" (1983), by Bernhard Cinader et al; published by McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (166 pgs., some color)

"Artists in tune with their World: Masters of Popular Art in the Americas and their relation to the Folk Tradition" (1982), by Selden Rodman; Simon and Schuster, New York (222 pgs., some color)

"Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 - 1979" (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)

"The Jacqui and Morris Shumiatcher Collection of Inuit Art" (1981), by Nelda Swinton; The Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina (102 pgs., B&W and color) - Catalogue of an exhibition

"Inuit Print Collection" (1981), by Ian G. Lumsden: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, NB (47 pgs., B&W) - Catalogue of an exhibition

"Passionate Spirits: A History of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1880 - 1980" (1980), by Rebecca Sisler (see AskART book references)

"The Inuit Sea Goddess" (1980), by Nelda Swinton; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal (60 pgs., B&W) - exhibition

"The Inuit Amautik: I like my hood to be full" (1980), by Bernadette Driscoll; Winnipeg Art Gallery (128 pgs., some color)

"The Coming and Going of the Shaman: Eskimo Shamanism and Art" (1979), by Jean Blodgett; Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg (246 pgs., B&W and color)

"Inuit Games and Contests: The Clifford E. Lee Collection of Inuit Prints" (1978), by Helen Collinson and George Swinton; University of Alberta, Edmonton (76 pgs., some color)

"The Inuit Print: A Travelling Exhibition" (1977), by National Museum of Man; published by National Museum of Man, Ottawa (267 pgs., B&W and color)

"The McMichael Canadian Collection" (1976), by Paul Duval; published by McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (198 pgs., some color)

"Enjoying Canadian Painting" (1976), by Patricia Godsell (see AskART book references)

"Arts of the Eskimo: Prints" (1975), general editor, Ernst Roch ; texts by Patrick Furneaux and Leo Rosshandler ; Signum Press, Montreal (240 pgs., B&W and Color)

"A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 6, Perrin - Rakine" (1975), by Colin S. MacDonald; Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Limited, Ottawa, Ontario (324 pgs.)

"A Directory of Eskimo Artists in Sculpture and Prints" (1974), Philip Howard Gray; Published by Philip Howard Gray, Bozeman, Montana (264 pgs. Text)

"Pitseolak: Pictures out of My Life" (1971), by Pitseolak and Dorothy Eber; University of Washington Press, Seattle (95 pgs., B&W)

"Shamans and Spirits: Myths and Medical Symbolism in Eskimo Art" (1970), by Marie-Françoise Guédon, and Estrellita  Karsh; The National Museum of Man, Ottawa (36 pgs., B&W)

"Inunnit: The Art of the Canadian Eskimo" (1970), by W.T. Larmour; Crown Copyrights, Ottawa (103 pgs., B&W)

"Cape Dorset: A Decade of Eskimo Prints and Recent Sculptures" (1967), by Canadian Eskimo Art Committee; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (47 pgs.)

"Eskimo Prints" (1967), by James Houston; Barre Pub., Barre, Mass. (110 pgs., some color)
 

BIBLIOGRAPHY (abridged and edited)

Writings about:
"Art of the Inuit." Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1987.
"Cape Dorset Inuit Art and Inuit Cultural Perspectives" School Net Digital Collections Project Ottawa: Industry Canada, 2000.
"Fishermen." [Reproduction] Canadian Collector 15 (May-Jun. 1980): 60.
"Mother Birds Protecting Young." [Reproduction] The Beaver 305 (Spring 1975): 27.
"Pictures Out Of My Life." Scientific American (Dec. 1972): 119.
"The Ashoona family of Cape Dorset." Inuit Art Quarterly 10 (Summer 1995): 38-9.
Angus, Terry and Shirley White. "Canadians All: Portraits of Our People." Toronto: Methuen, 1976.
Bagg, Shannon. "Making Art Work in Cape Dorset." Ottawa: Carleton University Art Gallery, 1997.
Bataille, Gretchen. "Native American Women : A Biographical Dictionary." New York: Routledge, 2001.
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Carson, Jo. "Son's Unmarked Grave Bitter Blow to Eskimo." Globe and Mail 9 Oct. 1971.
Cherry, Zena. "Academy Show at Ex." Globe and Mail 15 Aug. 1980: P12.
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Forster, Merna. "100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces". Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2004.
Gascon, France and Pascale Champagne. "The School of Women: 50 Canadian Artists at the Museum." Joliette, Québec: Musée d'art de Joliette, 2003.
Gibson, Jennifer. "Qiviuq: A Legend in Art." Ottawa: Carleton University Art Gallery, 1996.
Glenbow Museum. "From Drawing to Print; Perception and Process in Cape Dorset Art." Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1986.
Gustavison, Susan. "Arctic Expressions: Inuit Art and the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council, 1961-1989." Kleinburg, Ontario: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1994.
Hallett, Vicky and Jan Weiten. "A Woman's Work." Vancouver: Vancouver Community College, 1999.
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Jacknis, Ira. "Pitseolak: Pictures Out of My Life [book review]." American Anthropologist 82.1 (Mar. 1980).
Jackson, Marion E. "The Ashoonas of Cape Dorset: In Touch with Tradition." Nord 29.3 (Fall 1982): 14-8.
Katz, Jane B. "This Song Remembers: Self-Portraits of Native Americans." Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980.
Kelly, Caitlin. "Inuit Art Thrives South of the Border." Globe and Mail 13 Sept. 1997.
Kritzwiser, Kay. "Badges of Courageous Survival from the Women of Cape Dorset." Globe and Mail 24 May 1975.
LaBarge, Dorothy. "From Drawing to Print; Perception and Process in Cape Dorset Art." Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1986.
Lalonde, Christine. "Cross-Cultural Lines of Inquiry: The Drawings of Pitseolak Ashoona." Ottawa: Carleton University, National Library of Canada, 1996.
Lalonde, Christine. "Every Picture Tells a Story by Josie Papialuk." Inuit Art Quarterly 19.1 (Spring 2004): 26-8.
Lalonde, Christine. "Out of the Sea: Sculpture and Graphics in the Inuit Art Collection." Inuit Art Quarterly 12.3 (Fall 1997): 30-2.
Lalonde, Christine. "Cross-cultural Lines of Inquiry : The Drawings of Pitseolak Ashoona" Ottawa, ON: National Library of Canada, 1996.
Lalonde, Christine. "Pitseolak Ashoona [exhibition records]: the joys of life and art Ottawa," ON.: National Gallery of Canada., Nov. 14, 1996 - Apr. 6, 1997..
Leroux, Odette, Marion E. Jackson and Minnie Aodla. "Inuit Women Artists: Voices from Cape Dorset." Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre, 1994.
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Lewin, Michelle. "Beyond the Polar Bear." Canadian Art 23.3 (Fall 2006): 104.
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Purdie, James. "At the Galleries." Globe and Mail 18 Feb. 1978.
Reno, Dawn E. "Contemporary Native American Artists." Brooklyn, New York: Alliance Publishing, 1995.
Robertson Gallery. "Carvings and Prints by the Family of Pitseolak." Ottawa: Robertson Gallery, 1967.
Rodman, Selden. "Artists in Tune With Their World: Masters of Popular Art in the Americas and Their Relation to the Folk Tradition." New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.
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Routledge, Marie. "Pitseolak Ashoona." Treasures of the National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa and New Haven, Connecticut: National Gallery of Canada and Yale University Press, 2003.
Simon Fraser Gallery. "Contemporary Canadian Images." Burnaby: Simon Fraser Gallery, 1978.
Singh, Rina. "Pitseolak Ashoona: Inuit Artist." Don Mills, Ontario: Pearson Education Canada, 2005.
Speak, Dorothy. "'Three Women, Three Generations' [exhibition catalogue review]." Inuit Art Quarterly 15.3 (Fall 2000): 38-41.
Tippett, Maria. By a Lady. Toronto: Viking, 1992.
University of New Brunswick Art Centre. "Inuit Art in the UNB Collection." Fredericton: University of New Brunswick Art Centre, 1987.
Welch, Deborah. "American Indian Women: Reaching Beyond the Myth." "New Directions in American Indian History" edited by Colin G. Calloway. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988.

Writings by:
Ashoona, Pitseolak. "Pitseolak [electronic resource] : Pictures Out of My Life" / from interviews by Dorothy Eber ; with the drawings and prints of Pitseolak Ashoona. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.
Ashoona, Pitseolak. "Pitseolak" Prepared and Circulated by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs in Co-operation With the West-Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories. Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories: The Co-operative, 1976?.
Ashoona, Pitseolak. "Pitseolak Ashoona: The Pictures, November 1-22, 2003". Toronto: Feheley Fine Arts, 2003.
Ashoona, Pitseolak. "Summer Migration : Drawings From the Late 1960's by Pitseolak Ashoona". Toronto: Feheley Fine Arts, 1996.
Ashoona, Pitseolak and Dorothy Eber. "Pitseolak: Pictures of My Life". Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.
 
Additional sources:
Canadian Heritage Information Network*
Katilvik.com


* For more in-depth information about Inuits, Inuit Art, the Inuit Artists' Print Database, Inuit Disc Numbers, Stencil Prints, Stonecut Prints and other subjects relating to this artist please see the AskART.com. Glossaryhttp://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx.


Submitted to AskART by M.D. Silverbrooke.
 


Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Pitseolak Ashoona
Pitseolak Ashoona

"I draw the things I have never seen, the monsters and spirits, and I draw the old ways, the things we did long before there were many white men."

Pitseolak Ashoona was born in 1904 (or 1907) on Nottingham Island in the eastern Arctic's Hudson Strait while her immediate family was traveling from Sugluk (now Salluit) on the north coast of Arctic Quebec to the south of Baffin Island. Her first-hand experience living on the land would figure prominently in her artwork. Pitseolak's immediate family included her mother Timungiak, three brothers and a sister, as well as her father Ottochie from whom she learned Inuit legends.

Ashoona would become one of the most prolific of Inuit artists producing over 7,000 drawings in 25 years. Two hundred of her drawings were made into prints and many became a part of the annual Cape Dorset print collections.

Pitseolak's artistic legacy would also continue through her children. She was a mother to 17 children of whom six lived to adulthood. Her adult children also became artists. Her sons are the stone carvers Konwartok (Kumwartok), Ottochie, Kiawak, Namoonie, and Qaqaq (Kaka). Her daughter is Napachie Pootoogook (Napadive or Nawpachee Poottoogook), a graphic artist. Pitseolak is the grandmother of the artist Ohito Ashoona and is, herself, the niece of the artist Kiakshuk.

Pitseolak passed away on May 28, 1983 while living in Cape Dorset.

In her youth Pitseolak would move with her family from camp to camp near to sites now known as Iqaluit and Cape Dorset. The family's movements would be dictated by the seasons and the migration of game. Her life would change dramatically when her father died suddenly while she was a teenager. Her three brothers arranged a marriage for her to a young hunter named Ashoona in 1922.

As her family had earlier, she and her husband would also live a traditional lifestyle following caribou herds. In the 1940s Pitseolak would lose her husband, who was in his 40s, to one of the epidemics affecting the North at that time. She was left with young children to raise. Her family and other hunters would help her provide for her children.

Pitseolak was quoted as saying about that time in her life: "After my husband died, I felt alone and unwanted. Making prints is what made me the happiest since he died." Taking advantage of a government-sponsored move to permanent settlements during the 1950s Pitseolak would settle in Cape Dorset.

To earn a living and support her children Pitseolak began making clothing such as parkas at the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. The work was hard and did not pay well. She would receive $12 for each parka she made.

Jim Houston, an administrator with Northern Affairs, established this first Inuit-owned co-operative. The co-op would give the residents of Cape Dorset, like Pitseolak, a place to produce and market their art from. Profits were shared among members.

With Houston's encouragement Pitseolak would make her first attempts at creating art. Pitseolak was in her 50s at that time. While she enjoyed drawing Pitseolak did not enjoy working with copper plates, one of the first mediums she was introduced to. Inspired by the example of her uncle, Kiakshuk (an artist who would become well known for his sculpture, drawing, and prints), who was making money by selling his drawings for the co-operative, Pitseolak tried her hand at drawing. Her first attempts were drawings of monsters for which James Houston paid her $20. He advised her to choose as her drawing's subject matter the traditional lifestyle she had experienced as a child and through her early adulthood.

Through her association with the co-op Pitseolak would prosper with her drawing. She would later encourage her daughters-in-law, Mayoureak and Sorsilitu, to draw, telling them "You'll have a little income of your own."

In her artwork Pitseolak drew upon her memories of the "the old ways" for her subject matter as well as traditional stories and legends. Art historian Dr. Janet Catherine Berlo described Pitseolak's subject matter as a "universe of palpable remembrances." Berlo would also note that Pitseolak's artwork would "serve as a means of recapturing these old ways and making them vivid for younger generations of Inuit." Dorothy Eber (1971) observed that for Pitseolak her drawings served as a means to tell future generations of Inuit about traditional ways of life as Pitseolak. According to Eber Pitseolak feared that the old ways would be seen as myth or fairy tales.

Pitseolak's artwork is seen as falling into two distinct sets of imagery that occasionally overlapped. In one set the drawings and prints are more narrative and show the traditional Inuit lifestyle. The landscapes that appear in these works are "semi-representational" and illustrate activities such as traveling by various means, living in skin tents, and day-to-day life. The second set of images originate solely from Pitseolak's imagination and include images of: "spirits, monsters, strangely shaped sea creatures and extravagantly feathered birds" and representations of the spiritual world. These images have been compared to the work of Kiakshuk.

Piseolak's style has been described as "lively, lighthearted, with humour and joy" with a "strong sense of design, balance, colour and energy." She would be among the first in Cape Dorset to try drawing as a means to earn a living and would become the most prolific. She has been quoted as saying: "I became an artist to earn money, but I think I am a real artist." Pitseolak's first drawings were made with graphic pencil but she would change to coloured pencil crayons and felt markers when they became available. As an artist she would explore a range of media, including acrylics. Coloured felt tipped pens would remain her favourite medium. Her preferred place to create her artwork in was her own bedroom.

She began printmaking, under James Houston, in the 1950s. Her earliest prints were stonecuts consisting of images of "solid black or green" 'silhouettes' of figures against a white background. During the years of the mid-1960s to the early 1970s she made engravings slightly tinged with a restricted colour palette of one or two colours.

In the later 1960s she also tried stonecuts, which involved more colours as well as lithographs. It has been argued by one observer that her "finest image" of her career and possibly the "most outstanding in the history of northern two-dimensional art" was her 1970 print entitled Festive Bird, a colour stonecut on laid paper printed by Kananginak Pootoogak (60.8 x 85.2cm).

"To make prints is not easy." Pitseolak observed, "You must think first and this is hard to do. But I am happy doing the prints...I am going to keep on doing them until they tell me to stop...I shall make them as long as I am well. If I can, I'll make then [sic] even after I am dead." Eber (1971) noted that for Pitseolak making prints was both a source of financial security as well as a source of pride for work well done.

Pitseolak would be a part of over 100 group and solo exhibitions during her lifetime. Her life and art would be the subject of two books and many academic and magazine articles. As well, her story would be made into a National Film Board of Canada animated documentary.

Pitseolak became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1974, a recipient of a Canada Council Senior Arts grant in 1975, and would receive the Order of Canada in 1977. In 1983 her portrait was placed on a 43 cent Canadian stamp commemorating International Women's Day.

"I have heard that they like my drawings in the south," Piseolak has been quoted as commenting, "and I am grateful and happy about it."

Looking back on her life Pitseolak observed:"I know I have had an unusual life, being born in a skin tent and living to hear on the radio that two men have lived on the moon."


Submitted to AskART by M.D. Silverbrooke,  courtesy of Katilvik.com.


Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Pitseolak Ashoona
Pitseolak Ashoona is one of Canada's best known artists. Raised on Baffin Island, she was considered to be one of the best Inuit artists from Cape Dorset, producing more than 7,000 original works of art in her twenty-four-year artistic career. Pitseolak received numerous awards, including the Canada Council Senior Arts Grant and the Order of Canada. She was also invested as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Ashoona died in 1983, leaving behind images that allow us to understand the northern existence through distinct perspectives and unique artistic representations.

Source:
http://www.houston-north-gallery.ns.ca/Pitseolak.html


She is survived by a large family of artists including her sons Qaqaq (Kaka) Ashoona, Kiawak (Kiugak) Ashoona, and Kumwartok Ashoona; her daughter Napatchie Pootoogook, granddaughter Annie Pootoogook, and grandson Ohitok Ashoona.


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Biography photo for Pitseolak Ashoona
Photo courtesy of The Dennos Museum Center Traverse City, Michigan.




About  Pitseolak Ashoona

Born:  1904 - Baffin Island, Canada
Died:   1983 - Baffin Island, Canada
Known for:  Inuit culture drawings, graphic design, printmaking