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PITSEOLAK (Pitseolak Ashoona)

Nottingham Island, Northwest Territories, 1904
Cape Dorset, Nunavut, 1983
Biography synopsis
Pitseolak Ashoona was born on Nottingham Island circa 1904 in what is now known as Nunavut. She married Ashoona, a hunter, in 1922. Four of her surviving children became artists: sons Kumwartok, Qaqaq and Kiawak Ashoona and daughter Napachie Pootoogook. In the early 1950s the Civil Administrator of west Baffin Island, James Houston, introduced the techniques of printmaking to the Inuit. Pitseolak Ashoona began working in the late 1950s; she produced over 7,000 drawings during her career. The subject matter in her work often depicted the traditional ways of Inuit life before contact with Europeans. Ashoona was also well known for experimenting with landscape in her prints. In 1971, she narrated the story of her life in the National Film Board's animated documentary "Pitseolak: Pictures Out of My Life." She was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1974 and a Member of the Order of Canada in 1977.
Media used
Graphic design
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1974
Order of Canada, 1977
File & Archive locations
University of Calgary Library, AB
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, QC - Media Centre
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Vancouver Art Gallery, BC - Library
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, ON
Canadian Museum of Civilization Archives, QC
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC

Writings about
"Optica Berlin: 'Illuminations;' 'Licht;' 'Exhilaration and Dysphoria'." Berlin: Optica Gallery, 2003
Art of the Inuit. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1987
"Cape Dorset Inuit Art and Inuit Cultural Perspectives/ Art Inuit de Cape Dorset et perspectives culturelles des Inuits." SchoolNet Digital Collections Project Ottawa: Industry Canada, 2000
"Femmes canadiennes commémorées par des timbres le 8 mars 1993." Philatélie Québec 176 (Apr. 1993): 41-3
"Fishermen." [Reproduction] Canadian Collector 15 (May-Jun. 1980): 60
"La Maison de la poste inaugure une exposition à la mémoire de quatre Canadiennes exceptionnelles." Philatélie Québec 177 (May 1993)
"Mother Birds Protecting Young." [Reproduction] The Beaver 305 (Spring 1975): 27
"Pictures Out Of My Life." Scientific American (Dec. 1972): 119
"The Ashoona family of Cape Dorset." Inuit Art Quarterly 10 (Summer 1995): 38-9
Angus, Terry and Shirley White. Canadians All: Portraits of Our People. Toronto: Methuen, 1976
Bagg, Shannon. Making Art Work in Cape Dorset. Ottawa: Carleton University Art Gallery, 1997
Bataille, Gretchen. Native American Women : A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Routledge, 2001
Beaverbrook Art Gallery. The Murray and Marguerite Vaughan Inuit Print Collection. Fredericton: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 1981
Berlo, Janet. "The Power of the Pencil." Inuit Art Quarterly 5.1 (1990): 16-19, 22, 24, 26
Berlo, Janet Catherine. "Portraits of Dispossession in Plains Indian and Inuit Graphic Arts Portraits of Dispossession in Plains Indian and Inuit Graphic Arts." Art Journal New York: College Art Association of America, 49.2 (Summer 1990): 133-41
Berlo, Janet Catherine. "Review of the exhibition catalogue for 'Inuit Women Artists: Voices from Cape Dorset'." Museum Anthropology Flagstaff, Arizona: Council for Museum Anthropology, 19.1 (Spring-Summer 1995)
Blodgett, Jean. "Three Women, Three Generations: Drawings by Pitseolak Ashoona, Napatchie Pootoogook and Shuvinai Ashoona." Inuit Art Quarterly 15.1 (Spring 2000): 46-8
Blodgett, Jean; Mitchell, Marybelle et al. Three Women, Three Generations: Drawings By Pitseolak Ashoona, Napatchie Pootoogook, and Shuvinai Ashoona. Kleinberg, Ontario: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1999
Boutilier, Alicia & Tobi Bruce. The Artist Herself : Self-portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists / L'artiste elle-même : autoportraits de femmes artistes au Canada. Kingston, ONT.: Agnes Etherinton Art Centre. Hamilton: Art Gallery Hamilton, 2015
Carson, Jo. "Son's Unmarked Grave Bitter Blow to Eskimo." Globe and Mail 9 Oct. 1971
Cherry, Zena. "Academy Show at Ex." Globe and Mail 15 Aug. 1980: P12
Cherry, Zena. "In the Far North, Nobody Makes Conversation About the Weather." Globe and Mail 21 Apr. 1973
Cochran, Bente Roed. "Pitseolak Ashoona: An Unusual Life." Inuit Art Quarterly. 2.2 (Spring, 1987)
Collinson, Helen and Charles Moore. Victoria Mamnguqsualuk, Pitseolak Ashoona. S.l.: unknown, 1980
Conlogue, Ray. "A Curatorial Square-Off." Globe and Mail 22 Oct. 1994
Crandall, Richard C. Inuit Art: A History. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2000
Dorais, Louis-Jacques. "Inuit." Aboriginal Peoples of Canada: A Short Introduction/ edited by Paul Robert Magocsi. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000
Dudley, K. F. "Book Review of 'Pitseolak: Pictures Out of My Life'." Arctic and Alpine Research 5.2 (Spring 1973): 157-15
Farr, Dorothy. "Amauti: Exploring the Presence of Inuit Women as Subject and as Artist." Inuit Art Quarterly Toronto: Kingait Press, 17.3 (Fall 2002): 46-7
Forster, Merna. 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2004
Gascon, France and Pascale Champagne. The School of Women: 50 Canadian Artists at the Museum. Joliette, Québec: Musée d'art de Joliette, 2003
Gibson, Jennifer. Qiviuq: A Legend in Art. Ottawa: Carleton University Art Gallery, 1996
Glenbow Museum. From Drawing to Print; Perception and Process in Cape Dorset Art. Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1986
Grace, Sherrill. Canada and the Idea of North. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001
Gustavison, Susan. Arctic Expressions: Inuit Art and the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council, 1961-1989. Kleinburg, Ontario: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1994
Hallett, Vicky and Jan Weiten. A Woman's Work. Vancouver: Vancouver Community College, 1999
Hamelin, Christine. "Pitseolak - A Legend in Her Time: Pitseolak Ashoona,1904-1983." Kingston Whig-Standard 1 Feb. 1997: 2
Humez, J. M. "Pictures in the Life of Eskimo Artist Pitseolak." Woman's Art Journal 2.2 (Fall-Winter 1981): 31-6
Jacknis, Ira. "Pitseolak: Pictures Out of My Life [book review]." American Anthropologist 82.1 (Mar. 1980)
Jackson, Marion E. "The Ashoonas of Cape Dorset: In Touch with Tradition." Nord 29.3 (Fall 1982): 14-8
Jeroski, Sharon and Sara Garnick. Biographies canadiennes: 4, Guide d'enseignement. Montreal: Chenelière Éducation, 2006
Katz, Jane B. This Song Remembers: Self-Portraits of Native Americans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980
Kelly, Caitlin. "Inuit Art Thrives South of the Border." Globe and Mail 13 Sept. 1997
Kritzwiser, Kay. "Badges of Courageous Survival from the Women of Cape Dorset." Globe and Mail 24 May 1975
LaBarge, Dorothy. From Drawing to Print; Perception and Process in Cape Dorset Art. Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1986
Lalonde, Christine. Cross-Cultural Lines of Inquiry: The Drawings of Pitseolak Ashoona. Ottawa: Carleton University, National Library of Canada, 1996
Lalonde, Christine. Pitseolak Ashoona: Life and Work. Toronto, Ontario: Art Canada Institute/Institut de l'Art Canadien, 2015
Lalonde, Christine. "Every Picture Tells a Story by Josie Papialuk." Inuit Art Quarterly 19.1 (Spring 2004): 26-8
Lalonde, Christine. "Out of the Sea: Sculpture and Graphics in the Inuit Art Collection." Inuit Art Quarterly 12.3 (Fall 1997): 30-2
Lalonde, Christine.. Cross-cultural Lines of Inquiry : The Drawings of Pitseolak Ashoona Ottawa, ON: National Library of Canada, 1996
Lalonde, Christine.. Pitseolak Ashoona [exhibition records] : The Joys of Life and Art Ottawa, ON.: National Gallery of Canada., Nov. 14, 1996 - Apr. 6, 1997
Lemieux, Jean and Raymond Brousseau, et al. Pitseolak Ashoona, 1904-1983. Quebec: Aux multiples collections, 1989
Leroux, Odette, Marion E. Jackson and Minnie Aodla. Inuit Women Artists: Voices from Cape Dorset. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre, 1994
Lewin, Michelle. Art By Women: An Investigation of Inuit Sculpture and Graphics. Toronto, Ontario: Feheley Fine Arts, 2002
Lewin, Michelle. "Beyond the Polar Bear." Canadian Art 23.3 (Fall 2006): 104
Lutz, Maija. "The Raven and the Loon: Inuit Prints and Sculptures from the Chauncey C. Nash Collection." Inuit Art Quarterly 15.2 (Summer 2000): 30-1
McDermott, Barb and Gail McKeown. All About ... Famous Canadians from Nunavut. Edmonton: Reidmore Books, 1999
McDougall, Anne. Canadian Encyclopedia Online. Historical Foundation, 2009
McGrath, Robin. "Circumventing the Taboos: Inuit Women's Autobiographies." Undisciplined Women: Tradition and Culture in Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1997
McMaster, Jenny. "Territories of Mind and Spirit: Land and Space in Inuit Art: At the Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario." Inuit Art Quarterly 17.2 (Summer 2002): 42-3
Nasby, Judith. "Inuit Art 1950-2000." Inuit Art Quarterly 17.2 (Summer 2002): 5
New Brunswick Museum. Kingnait: The L. Marguerite Vaughan Gift of Cape Dorset Prints. Saint John, New Brunswick: New Brunswick Museum, 1996?
Pottle, Barry and Ryan Rice. Transitions 2: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art of Canada. Ottawa: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2001
Purdie, James. "At the Galleries." Globe and Mail 18 Feb. 1978
Reno, Dawn E. Contemporary Native American Artists. Brooklyn, New York: Alliance Publishing, 1995
Robertson Gallery. Carvings and Prints by the Family of Pitseolak. Ottawa: Robertson Gallery, 1967
Rodman, Selden. Artists in Tune With Their World: Masters of Popular Art in the Americas and Their Relation to the Folk Tradition. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982
Rosinsky, Natalie. "The Inuit" from the "First Reports: Native Americans" series. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press Inc, 2004
Ross, Val. "Inuit Art Carves a Niche In the International Scene." Globe and Mail 13 Jan. 1996
Routledge, Marie. "Pitseolak Ashoona." Treasures of the National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa and New Haven, Connecticut: National Gallery of Canada and Yale University Press, 2003
Simon Fraser Gallery. Contemporary Canadian Images. Burnaby: Simon Fraser Gallery, 1978
Singh, Rina. Pitseolak Ashoona: Inuit Artist. Don Mills, Ontario: Pearson Education Canada, 2005
Singh, Rina. Pitseolak Ashoona: une artiste inuite. Montreal: Chenelière éducation, 2005
Speak, Dorothy. "'Three Women, Three Generations' [exhibition catalogue review]." Inuit Art Quarterly 15.3 (Fall 2000): 38-41
Tippett, Maria. By a Lady. Toronto: Viking, 1992
University of New Brunswick Art Centre. Inuit Art in the UNB Collection. Fredericton: University of New Brunswick Art Centre, 1987
Welch, Deborah. "American Indian Women: Reaching Beyond the Myth." New Directions in American Indian History/edited by Colin G. Calloway. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988

Writings by
Ashoona, Pitseolak. "Pitseolak [electronic resource] : Pictures Out of My Life / from interviews by Dorothy Eber ; with the drawings and prints of Pitseolak Ashoona = Pisiulak : unikatuak inusiulautumik / apikasunisuni n Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003
Ashoona, Pitseolak. "Pitseolak" Prepared and Circulated by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs in Co-operation With the West-Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories. Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories: The Co-operative, 1976?
Ashoona, Pitseolak. Pitseolak Ashoona: The Pictures, November 1-22, 2003. Toronto: Feheley Fine Arts, 2003
Ashoona, Pitseolak. Summer Migration : Drawings From the Late 1960's by Pitseolak Ashoona. Toronto: Feheley Fine Arts, 1996
Ashoona, Pitseolak and Dorothy Eber. Pitseolak: Pictures of My Life. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003

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