Photostory #289: Kenojuak -- Poet of the Arctic

Rosemary Gilliat , N.A.N.R.
National Film Board of Canada
Release Date
July 11, 1961
CMCP fonds
Credit Line
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Main Text
"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.