Canadian Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak died last week (January 8, 2013) at the age of 85. She was recognized as one of the notable participants in the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative studio, also known as the Kinngait studio. She contributed original art for a new print every year from 1959 up to 2012 for the Cape Dorset Print Collections, and throughout the 1960s her image "The Enchanted Owl" was featured on Canadian postage stamps and coins. In addition to myth and nature, her work was also inspired by the rich tradition of women's textiles -- the elaborate design work sewed into traditional clothing which she also did.
In 2010, Kenojuak Ashevak moved into producing large drawings and Cape Dorset print-shop manager Bill Ritchie recalls, “Her house is tiny, so I can’t imagine how she managed to work on those 4 foot by 4 foot or 6 foot by 8 foot drawings. There was nothing to hold her down. She just absorbed it and figured out the material and she did it. Kenojuak was never one to back down from a challenge.”
She is being remembered across Canada in numerous articles and memorials. Here are three: Indian Country Media Network (which also has a little video interview with her), Canadian Art, and The NYT. More of her art can be seen on 50Watts which has an extraordinary collection of her beautiful and mythical work.
And here is a terrific video about the Kinngait studio from five years ago which also includes a bit of film on Kenojuak Ashevak as well as a glimpse of studio's unique printing process.