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Martha Ittuluka'naaq

Musk Oxen and Wolves

Artist

Martha Ittuluka'naaq
Kazan River area, Nunavut, 1912 – Baker Lake, Nunavut, 1981Active in Baker Lake

Title

Musk Oxen and Wolves

Date

1970

Materials

Stencil, 24/24

Dimensions

43 x 61.2 cm

Publisher

Printmaker: James Telegeneak (born in 1946)

Credits

Gift of Professor Sandra Freedman Witelson, inv. 2010.862

Collection

Graphic Arts

Taking up graphic arts for the first time in her late fifties, Ittuluka’naaq created the drawing for this print at the very beginning of her artistic career. The work features the minimalist, repetitive outlined forms that would become a trademark of her work. Depictions of land animals such as musk oxen and wolves were common in the artist’s inland community of Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake), in contrast to those of marine animals favoured elsewhere. Ittuluka’naaq rendered animals in simplified, almost weightless two-dimensional form repeated across the composition. She sometimes made cut-outs and used them as a starting point to achieve the desired visual forms. This unique approach, where shape takes precedence over line, may have been inspired by her work as a seamstress, particularly her fabric appliqués.


For Ittuluka’naaq and many other Inuit during the mid-twentieth century, art was a means of survival. Famine and disease among her people led her to settle in Baker Lake in 1961. Upon her arrival, she was a widow with no income. The newly introduced arts industry in Baker Lake became a way for her to support herself and her family while adapting from a traditional semi-nomadic life on the land to a wage-based economy in the settlement.

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