Photostory #289: Kenojuak -- Poet of the Arctic
National Film Board of Canada
July 11, 1961
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
"This young Eskimo woman is a designer of exceptional power, and her art is comparable in rhythmic imagery to that of the late Emily Carr. . . Her best pieces could hang with honour in any display of international printmaking." Object of this adulation is Kenojuak -- shy Eskimo mother from Cape Dorset, Baffin Island, who takes time from cooking and caring for her family to create prints that are imaginative and poetic, a kind of "hymn to life" from a person who finds greatness, fantasy and poetry in the vast spaces of her Arctic environment. Her work, beginning in ordinary life, takes flight into a flowing rhythmic world of imagination, often heightened by the appearance of turngaq, or spirits. She draws what she imagines from the myths and legends which are still so much a part of Eskimo life. Kenojuak has had her tragedies -- death of fellow artist Sheouak, this spring -- her hardships -- five years in a sanatorium -- but she remains serene, charming. A harsh life has left no mark upon her art, which remains a flowing fantasia -- a poetic evocation of the universal spirits behind all imagination, all art, all life.