“Born at Sako, a traditional Inuit camp on the southwest coast of Baffin Island, Northwest Territories, Canada, Napatchie Pootoogook is the only surviving daughter of one of Inuit art’s most important figures, Pitseolak Ashoona. Along with her sculptor brothers, [Namoonai, Koomwartok, Ottochie,] Kiawak and Kaka Ashoona, and her graphic artist sisters-in-lawm Mayureak and Sorosiluto Ashoona, Napatchie belongs to a family with a strong artistic identity that has contributed significantly to the reputation of Cape Dorset art and the printmaking studio of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative.
In the mid-1950s, while living at Kiaktuuq, she married Eegyvukluk Pootoogook (b.1931), son of the important camp leader, Pootoogook, who has since become one of the main printers in the Cape Dorset studio. Like her mother, Napatchie began drawing in the late 1950s. Since 1960 her work has been included in almost every annual collection of Cape Dorset prints. Napatchie and her husband moved into Cape Dorset in 1965, where they have continued to live, except for a two-year stay in Iqaluit in the early 1970s.
Although much of her early work, such as the print ‘Eskimo Sea Dreams’ (1960), presents a lyrical, dream-like reflection of Inuit beliefs in the spirit world, the main thrust of her prints and drawings since the mid-1970s has been more concerned with recording traditional life, clothing, and local Inuit history. In prints such as ‘Atchealda’s Battle’ (1978), ‘The First Policeman I Saw’ (1978), ‘Nascopie Reef’ (1989), and ‘Whaler’s Exchange’ (1989), Napatchie uses a vigorous, energetic figurative style to bring to life significant events of the past.
Like her sister-in-law, Sorosiluto, Napatchie participated in the acrylic painting/drawing workshops established by the West Baffin Co-operative in 1976. Her interest in landscape and Western notions of spatial composition would seem to grow out of this experience. Most recently Napatchie has been working directly in the lithographic medium and experimenting with life drawing as a preparatory stage toward the print image.”
Marie Routledge In “North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary”, 1995
Photo courtesy Jimmy Manning