Jessie Oonark

Jessie Oonark (1906–1985) was one of the most iconic Inuit artists of the twentieth century. Her strong, bold and colourful compositions that have delighted generations found their expression in various media, including drawings, prints and wall hangings.

Like many of her contemporaries, Oonark and her family left their traditional life on the land to move into the settlement of Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake) in the late 1950s. Her talent was immediately recognized and a succession of art advisors in Qamani’tuaq provided materials and encouragement. She began drawing, creating strong symmetrical compositions peopled by figures in traditional clothing, animals and birds and stylized versions of traditional tools and implements. Her strong, symmetrical style translated perfectly into textile art as she began to create exquisite appliqués and embroidered wall hangings. Her talent, devotion and hard work were important to the development of the graphic arts program in Qamani’tuaq. In addition to her inclusion in annual Baker Lake Print Collections, three of her prints were released through the Kinngait (Cape Dorset) studio in 1960 and 1961.

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