3 Cousins: Annie Pootoogook, Shuvinai Ashoona, Siassie Kenneally

Annie Pootoogook, MY GRANDMOTHER PITSEOLAK ASHOONA, Cape Dorset, 2006, coloured pencil & ink, 20 x 26 in. “This is my grandmother with a cup of tea. She is in her home.”

Exhibition opened June 2, 2007

Three artists share their view of the world through original drawings of land, food, dwellings, family, friends and celebrations. They find inspiration in their own experiences and environments, be it the North and their home community of Cape Dorset on Baffin Island, or travelling abroad and documenting the adventure. Annie Pootoogook, Shuvinai Ashoona, and Siassie Kenneally come from a family of artists and today, they carry on a longstanding tradition of creating outstanding works on paper. Annie is the daughter of Napachie and Eegyvudluk Pootoogook, Shuvinai’s parents, Kiawak and Sorosilooto Ashoona, are also accomplished artists, and Siassie‘s parents, Oaqaq and Mayureak Ashoona are established sculptors. All three women are the granddaughters of the acclaimed graphic artist Pitseolak Ashoona. They often work side by side in Cape Dorset, but each artist explores her own individual style and artistic expression through her drawings. These works of art establish a dialogue between the people of the North and their surroundings.

This in-depth examination of original drawings by Annie, Shuvinai and Siassie continues Feheley Fine Arts’ focus on emerging contemporary Inuit artists.

Annie Pootoogook

It is evident that a more mature and confident hand is responsible for these new drawings. Sobey award winner, Annie Pootoogook, enters the realm of the established artist by maintaining a fine balance in her work. She continues to intrigue viewers with her detailed renditions. Single household items, such as stoves or thimbles, are presented in a seemingly empty setting, but rendered in extreme detail so that the lack of background is overlooked and the focus is directed towards the object central to the composition. Interiors of neighbours’ homes, galleries or places she nas visited are reproduced with accuracy and vitality: not in a photographic way but in a hand that is uniquely the style of Annie Pootoogook. These interiors, or scenes of life lived, are interpretations of Annie’s own memories. The ability to capture and recall both past and present experiences in extreme detail is a characteristic common to all three cousins.

Shuvinai Ashoona, IMAGES WITHIN FOUR EGGS, Cape Dorset, 2006, Coloured pencil & ink, 20 x 26 in.

Shuvinai Ashoona

These new compositions revisit some of Shuvinai’s preferred themes—eggs and rebirth. Her images have become bolder, more detailed and increasingly layered with multiple narratives.

Shuvinai’s work continues to chronicle the passage of time as well as noteworthy events in her own life. One composition, Pictures of My Drawings, takes on a calendar-like formation and prominently features a date in the foreground. The images in the drawing reference a broad range of time, from the days of igloos and the Nascopie, up to present day. They fill the foreground, while they are superimposed over a background drawing.

Shuvinai’s imagination successfully transfers onto paper through her fanciful constructs, which are present in full force in this group of new works. Fish Airplane with Tools, Eggs Inside a Big Box, and Action Figures demonstrate her talents for representing the unusual.

Siassie  Kenneally

It is far from apparent that Siassie Kenneally is the novice artist in the group. Her attention to detail and her strong sense of colour composition have resulted in this vibrant collection of new works on paper. Culled from a highly attuned relationship with the land, Siassie creates her drawings from memory. The extremely detailed overviews exact a precise recollection of the land’s surfaces and recall aerial photographs, while the up-close images zoom-in like a camera’s lens and provide focused snapshots.

Siassie synchronizes her memory with her talents as a colourist to reveal her aptitude for representing large-scale subject matter. The artist’s decision to feature these natural giants on two sheets of paper helps to convey their scale. Nicknamed the “Stonehenge of the North” these oversized stone compositions are much larger than traditional inukshuit. Due to their size and their age, it is probable that they were deposited by glaciers many years ago.