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Kenojuak Ashevak’s art makes tour stop in Toronto

Daughter ‘happy and grateful’ that her mother’s legacy endures
Pee Ashevak at work on her art, a sphere in which her mother was trailblazer. Picture courtesy of Pee Ashevak ᐲ ᐋᓯᕙᒃ ᓴᓇᐅᒐᓕᕆᓪᓗᓂ, ᐊᓈᓇᖓᑕ ᓯᕗᓕᖅᑎᒋᓚᐅᖅᖢᓂᐅᒃ.

A travelling exhibition presenting the works of renowned Canadian Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak, among other artists, will make its next stop at Toronto’s Urbanspace Gallery, where it will run from Jan. 19 to March 25, 2023.

Ashevak was one of the first Inuit artists to create prints of her artwork in Kinngait after James Houston launched a program teaching Inuit drawing techniques and how to make prints in the 1950s.

Throughout her lifetime, Ashevak has worked with graphite, coloured pencils and felt-tip pens. She has also created a variety of carvings from soapstone and thousands of drawings, etchings and stone-cut prints.

She has made designs for Canadian stamps and coins, and her work was displayed on a special edition of the Canadian $10 bill for the country’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

In 2004, she expanded the boundaries of her traditional techniques by creating the first Inuit-designed stained-glass window for the John Bell Chapel in Oakville, Ont.

Her work is now part of many renowned art museums across the world: The University of Toronto, St. Lawrence University, the National Gallery of Canada, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

In the 1980s, she explained her creation process with Jean Blodgett, author of several books and essays on the artist: “I just take these things out of my thoughts and out of my imagination, and I don’t really give any weight to the idea of its being an image of something… I am just concentrating on placing it down on paper in a way that is pleasing to my own eye, whether it has anything to do with subjective reality or not.”

A word from the artist’s daughter, Pee Ashevak

In an interview with Nunavut News, Pee Ashevak said she was “happy and grateful” her mother’s work is still being shared with the world.

“As a teenager, my mother inspired me to start my own art career,” she said.

Ashevak is now following her mother’s footsteps. Her art creations are being sold at Dorset Fine Arts in Toronto.

“My husband also motivated me to start doing some artwork. My favorite things to draw are birds,” she said.

She noted that she’s grateful to be able to draw because it helps “putting food on the table.”

However, she added that she had stopped doing artwork since her daughter passed away.

‘Sunlit Owl’ by Pee Ashevak, 2022. Image courtesy of Pee Ashevak ᓴᓐᓕᑦ ᐆᕗᓪ ᐲ ᐋᓯᕙᒃ, 2022.