Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Mary Okheena


Holman, Northwest Territories, Canada

(1955- )

In recent years Mary Okheena has become a forceful presence in the annual print collections from Holman, Northwest Territories, Canada. This young Inuit artist started drawing and printmaking at the Holman Eskimo co-operative as a teenager. The daughter of printmaker and sculptor Jimmy Memorana, Okheena is part of the third generation of organized graphic artists in the Canadian Arctic. As such her art combines a uniquely Inuit aesthetic and cultural tradition with Southern cultural influences and Western artistic devices.

Okheena began her professional artistic career by translating other artists’ images into prints, which appear in the 1979 and 1980-81 annual Holman print collections. Okheena excels at the stencil technique, achieving subtle and luminous gradations of color. It was in 1986 when Okheena began to apply the print medium to her own images…. Okheena has consistently explored the aesthetic possibilities of animal and human forms, abstracting and exploiting their formal qualities in works such as “Musk-ox Waiting for the Tide to Cross Water” (1986) and “Cold and Hungry” (1986). She ingeniously creates visual metaphors as in “Mouth of the River” (1987) and “Songs of Animals” (1986), and frequently injects her work with a sense of fun and exuberance for life.

Artist Contemporaries