Kenojuak Ashevak + Eternal Winter Incentives
Since winter is in full force and I’m constantly cursing it while surfing the web from my warm, comfy couch. My latest strategy for instant gratitude is this: imagine doing ______in an igloo. Insert anything... making dinner, putting kids to bed, washing clothes... anything. According to Wikipedia (which they can’t get in igloos) a -45 degree day feels like a balmy -7 in an igloo. That’s a frigging cold house.
Last year, I came across the work of Kenojuak Ashevak while researching Canadian artists for a world studies unit. I‘d never seen anything like it and I knew my students would dig it, so I came up with a series of printmaking lessons based on her work. Over her long life in Cape Dorset, Canada (way, way northeast, currently -25 degrees), she made TONS of artwork, including sculpture, but mostly large-scale drawings, which were then made into prints.
She’s famous for her owls, like this one, which was used for a Canadian stamp in 1970.
Ashevak started drawing when artist John Houston (more on this) created an workshop for Inuit residents of Cape Dorset, now called the Kinngait Studios. Initially, she experimented with embroidery and leather. Her well-loved designs attracted attention and she began to focus on making her work bigger and more complex.
Ashevak’s drawings and prints gained fame in the 70’s and 80’s, due to Houston’s marketing, and she was elected into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1974. Her work has appeared on Canadian money and sells for the big bucks all over the world. She died in 2013 at the age of 85.
I found out yesterday that Kenojuak Ashevak was born in... an igloo. And she had 19 children.
There are, like, no excuses. Geez.
To watch a video of Ashevak talking about her work, go here.
Most of her work is in Canada, but, if you’re in Chicago, you can see the real thing here.
To watch a video on the founding of the Kinngait Studios, go here.
To see some current work from the Kinngait Studios, check out the Dorset Fine Arts website.