A tradition since 1959, the collection presents the work of Cape Dorset’s talented Inuit graphic artists—both young and old working together in the co-operatively owned Kinngait Studios. The 2013 Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection consists of 32 images by 11 artists in stonecut /stencil, lithography and etching/aquatint. The prints span the gamut of past, present and future and include subjects as diverse as plants and animals, brazen spirits and items from a haberdashery.
Sadly, this year marked the death of Kenojuak Ashevak, an icon of Inuit art and a mainstay of the annual collection for over 50 years. Kenojuak is dearly missed by all of us who have been associated with the Co-op as well as everyone within the community of Cape Dorset and among the many friends and admirers she had all over the world. She was not only a brilliant artist but an inspiring and positive person with a warm and generous heart.
There are seven prints by this remarkable woman in this year’s collection. Kenojuak signed two of them, Serpentine Wolf and Above & Below. The remaining five were signed posthumously by her daughter Silaqqi Ashevak.
With the passing of Kananginak Pootoogook three years ago and Kenojuak this year, the role of Cape Dorset’s pre-eminent print artist now rests in the capable hands of Ningeokuluk Teevee who has acquitted herself well with five delightfully fresh and light images of her favourite subjects, birds and Inuit legends.
There are three newcomers in this year’s collection. Nicotye Samayualie who is already gaining an international reputation for her detailed drawings, has contributed three prints that demonstrate her sensitivities to the beauty of patterns in both nature and manufactured products.
Saimaiyu Akesuk at age 27 is the youngest artist in this year’s collection. Her simple and dynamic images pay homage to her grandfather, the esteemed sculptor Latcholassie Akesuk in form and sentiment with an added touch of tenderness and whimsy.
Siassie Kenneally, who dazzled us with her sizzling hot print Fish Tails in the 2008 Spring Collection, makes her debut in the fall collection with two intriguing lithographs that explore the theme of looking down on the past.
Qavavau Manumie’s solitary print features the return of his mischievous little antihero, who we have seen in earlier prints absconding with an Ulu and a stiletto heel. This time he is making off with a haul of cash. However his joy at such a lucky find is soon to be short lived since the bills must surely be counterfeit as we, the audience can surmise by the obvious spelling mistake on the hundred dollar bill.
Papiara Tukiki who had a successful show of her drawings earlier this year has an arresting print that takes us into the instinctive mind of a startled Arctic Hare whose heightened senses is registered by a flash of bright lurid hues on the tundra.
Often overlooked in each year’s collection are the printmakers who punch into the studio every day and diligently toil at their craft. This year they deserve particular recognition for bringing back some vintage printing methods from the ’60s and for introducing some very complex and daring new innovations.
Working together, artist and printmaker have succeeded in bringing together a collection that honours the past through new beginnings.
John Westren, Foreword to the 2013 Cape Dorset Print Collection, Dorset Fine Arts