Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)
Mayoreak (Mayureak) Ashoona

Mayoreak (Mayureak) Ashoona



Cape Dorset, Nunavut Territory, Canada

(1946- )

A daughter of noted graphic artist Sheouak Parr, who was one of the first women to participate in the early drawing projects in the 1950s, Mayureak grew up traditionally on the land. She became the partner of artist Qaqaq Ashoona, and started drawing and carving in the early 1960s, though her graphics were not shown until later. After Qaqaq’s death in 1996, Mayureak moved back to Cape Dorset from their outcamp and began to produce work that was stylistically more in accord with her own interests and that were often on a larger scale. In 2003, she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy.

Mayoreak was born in 1946 at the South Baffin camp known as Saturituk. She was married to the late Kaka Ashoona, a notable carver and the son of the late Pitseolak Ashoona. After Kaka’s death, Mayoreak and her children moved back to Cape Dorset from their isolated camp on the southern coast of Baffin Island.

Mayoreak began drawing in 1963, and is known for her imaginative and highly coloured graphics. She has been consistently represented in the Annual Print collections from Cape Dorset since her work was first published in 1978. She is also recognized as a master carver in her own right.

Mayoreak has contributed to exhibitions presented in Canada, Germany and Japan. In 1986, she took part in the exhibition entitled “Northern Exposure: Inuit Images of Travel” organized by the Burnaby Art Gallery with the Department of Northern Development and the Government of the Northwest Territories. She was one of nine featured artists in the acclaimed exhibition Isumavut: The Artistic Expression of Nine Cape Dorset Women, which opened at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in the fall of 1994.

For the past several years Mayoreak has been living in the senior citizen’s residence in Iqaluit. She has recently moved back to Cape Dorset but her age and poor health have prevented her from drawing or carving. She was last represented in the annual print collection in 2009, with her beautiful and majestic stonecut, Tuulirjuaq (2009-15). She was able to participate in the 2011 etching studio workshop with Studio PM, and we are pleased to include Caribou Gather (2012-10), an intriguing composition that evokes the solidarity of the herd by drawing attention to the outcast calf.

Artist Contemporaries