Home > Artist Database > Bio-bibliographic Database > ASHEVAK, Kenojuak

Artist Database

ASHEVAK, Kenojuak

Baffin Island, 1927
Cape Dorset, 2013
Biography synopsis
Kenojuak Ashevak’s imprint on the Canadian cultural landscape is indelible. Although best known for her drawing and printmaking, she was also gifted at sewing, sculpture, copperplate engraving and painting. She began her career as an artist after recovering from tuberculosis in Quebec City, where she learned to make dolls and do beadwork in a hospital crafts program. Her work caught the eye of James Houston, who taught printmaking to the Inuit after studying the technique in Japan, and was an instrumental figure in promoting Inuit art. Her first print, Rabbit Eating Seaweed, earned her widespread attention after it was published in the 1959 Cape Dorset print shop catalogue, where she was the only woman to become a member in the shop’s artist cooperative. Her art has traveled all over Canada and the world, in exhibitions, books, catalogues, and films. Three of Ashevak’s prints have circulated on Canadian stamps: Enchanted Owl in 1970; Return of the Sun in 1980; and The Owl in 1993. Her drawings feature animals, such as birds, drawn in vibrant colours with exaggerated features. Over her lifetime, Ashevak has garnered numerous achievements that honour her exuberant creative spirit. In 1967, she was honoured with the Order of Canada Medal of Service; In 1995, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards; in 2008, she was the first Inuit artist to win the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts; and in 2012, she was awarded the Order of Nunavut.
Media used
File & Archive locations
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Artexte Information Centre, QC - Documentation Centre
Hamilton Public Library, ON - Local History and Archives Department
London Public Library, ON
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, ON - Library and Archives
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, QC
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, QC - Media Centre
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Thunder Bay Art Gallery, ON - Resource Centre
University of British Columbia - Fine Arts Library
University of Calgary Library, AB
Vancouver Art Gallery, BC - Library
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Museum of Modern Art, NY

Writings about
Aboriginal Artists in Canada, Including Pitseolak Ashoona, Henrik Lund, Tagaq, Jessie Oonark, Kenojuak Ashevak, Simon Tookoome, Helen Kalvak, Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq, Simeonie Keenainak, Peter Pi USA: Hephaestus Books, 2011.
Art Canadien: Catalogue du Musée des Beaux-Arts Du Canada, Volume Deux (G-K) Ottawa: Musée des beaux-arts du Canada / National Gallery of Canada, 1994.
Art of the Inuit. ?: ?, 1974.
Kenojuak Lithographs. Montreal, QC: Theo Waddington, 1980.
The Sculpture of Kenojuak Ashevak & Joanassie Igiu, 1978-1981 Toronto: The Firm, 1988, 1988.
"Acquisitions Principales Des Galeries Et Musées Canadiens / Principal Acquisitions of Canadian Museums and Galleries 1982." RACAR: Revue d'Art Canadienne / Canadian Art Review 10.2 (1 Jan. 1983).
"Adopted Son of Inuit Artist Kenojuak Ashevak Dies." CBC Canada News 19 Jan. 2009
"Art." Beaver 85.5 (2005): 23-24.
Bagg, Shannon. Making Art Work in Cape Dorset. Ottawa: Carleton University Art Gallery, 1997.
Blodgett, Jean. Kenojuak. Toronto: Firefly Books, 1985.
Blodgett, Jean. Kenojuak: Graphic Masterworks of the Inuit. (Limited Edition). Toronto: Mintmark Press, 1981.
Bouchard, Serge, Frederic Back, et al.. Confessions Animales: Bestiaire II. Montreal, QC: Éditions du passage, 2008.
Campbell, Nancy. Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Contemporary Inuit Drawing. Toronto: York University, PhD Dissertation, 2017.
Feeney, John, Francois Seguillon, et al.. Eskimo Artist Kenojuak. New York: Contemporary Films, 1963.
Igloliorte, Heather. "Kenojuak Ashevak." The Artist Herself: Self-portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists = L'artiste elle-même : autoportraits de femmes artistes au Canada. Eds. Alicia Boutilier & Tobi Bruce. Kingston, Ontario: Agnes Etherington Art Centre; Art Gallery of Hamilton, 2015.
Kilabuk, Malakie. Nunavut Inuit. Qinnaujuaq Ashevak. Nunavut: Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, 2001.
Lee Maracle and Sandra Laronde. Editors. "Kenojuak Ashevak." My Home as I Remember. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2000.
Leroux, Odette, Marion E. Jackson and Minnie Aodla. Inuit Women Artists: Voices from Cape Dorset. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre, 1994.
Lewin, Michelle. Kenojuak and Onward Arnaqu Ashevak, Adamie Ashevak, Kenojuak Ashevak : November 6-23, 2004. Toronto: Feheley Fine Arts, 2004.
Valaskakis, Gail Guthrie. "Profile of Kenojuak Ashevak." Hidden in Plain Sight: Contributions of Aboriginal Peoples to Canadian Identity and Culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.
Walk, Ansgar. Inuit-Künstlerin Kenojuak : mit einem Essay zur Zeitgenössischen Kunst der Inuit. Bielefeld: Walk, 2005.
Walk, Ansgar. Kenojuak : the Life Story of an Inuit Artist. Manitock: Penumbra Press, 1999.

Search by: