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Kenojuak Ashevak

The Enchanted Owl


Kenojuak Ashevak
Ikerasak camp, Nunavut, 1927 – Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut, 2013 Active in Kinngait


The Enchanted Owl




Stonecut, 43/50


61.1 x 66 cm


Printmaker: Eegyvudluk Pootoogook (1931-2000)
Printer: Iyola Kingwatsiak (1933-2000)


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. Gr.1961.100


Graphic Arts

For Kenojuak Ashevak, art is an expression of beauty where form takes precedence above all else. In interviews, she frequently expressed that her primary objective as an artist was to create images that inspired happiness in viewers. She looked for inspiration to the graceful form of Arctic birds, particularly snowy owls, and rendered their feathers in elongated and curved lines which radiate outwards from their bodies to fill almost the entire pictorial space. These radiating lines simultaneously instill her compositions with a sense of frenetic energy and compositional harmony. As an early participant in the first Inuit printmaking program that had been set up by James Houston in Cape Dorset during the late 1950s, she helped define a new aesthetic language through her drawings and prints, and went on to produce one of the most enduring and iconic images of both Inuit and Canadian art.

Although created near the beginning of Kenojuak’s career, the flowing abstraction The Enchanted Owl demonstrates the work of a confident artist. Kenojuak was already a talented seamstress when she answered Houston’s call for drawings, and it is possible that the strong decorative element inherent to her artistic practice may have been partially inspired by the fabric appliqués she used to adorn textile works, such as parkas and handbags.

© Reproduced with the permission of Dorset Fine Arts

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