Rarities: Coveted Cape Dorset Prints

Kenojuak Ashevak, SENTINEL OWL, 1970, stonecut & stencil, 23 7/8 x 33 3/4 in.

Exhibition opened May 25, 2023

Where were you in 1962 when Parr’s compelling stonecut Man and Whale was released in the Annual Cape Dorset Print Collection? Would anyone then have predicted that the young co-operative art studio in a small Arctic hamlet would go on to become the longest continuously-running print studio in Canada? Today, prints from the annual collections sit in private and public collections all over the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA, and the Tate Modern.

What makes a print into an internationally coveted artwork can be attributed to a few factors. Foremostly, iconic images are unequivocally great and often unanimously adored. Kananginak Pootoogook’s Ninngaumajuq Nanuq (Angry Bear), (2007) is a prime example. Upon close inspection, the stonecutting work on this print is so incredibly precise that each individual hair is defined — a painstaking task completed by master printer, Qiatsuq Niviaqsi. Together, Kananginak and Qiatsuq produced a delightful depiction of what many would consider to be the most iconic animal of the Arctic.

Other works take on an unconventional style that led them to cult-like fame. Sheojuk Etidlooie is one such artist, whose distinctive amorphous forms captivated audiences during her short but powerful stint in the late 1990s. The technique of etching and aquatint was introduced during this decade, adding an incredible luminosity to not only Sheojuk’s idiosyncratic images, but the graphics of nearly all of the Kinngait Studio artists. The adoption of lithography two decades earlier was also a fruitful endeavor that allowed for greater transferability of the artist’s hand to the print itself. This method led to the creation of many greats, including the catalogue covers Sheojuk Etidlooie’s Raven in Red (1996), and Papiara Tukiki’s Aana / Very Old Fish (2004).

Throughout their over-60-year history, the achievements of the Annual Cape Dorset Print Collections are undeniably remarkable. We hope you will enjoy this rare selection of thirty-five prints which represent some of the studio’s most coveted work.