Cape Dorset Prints

Cape Dorset prints located in the southwest corner study area of the 3000 level of the AQ. Photo by Reese Muntean
Cape Dorset prints located in the southwest corner study area of the 3000 level of the AQ. Photo by Reese Muntean
Cape Dorset prints located in the southwest corner study area of the 3000 level of the AQ. Photo by Reese Muntean

Title/Date: Woman with Ulu, 1966
Artist: Pauta Saila
Culture/Language Group: Inuit (Cape Dorset)
Media: Stonecut
Credit Line: SFU Art Collection. Purchase 1972

Title/Date: Composition, 1966
Artist: Pitseolak Ashoona
Culture/Language Group:
Media: 
Stonecut
Credit Line: SFU Art Collection. Purchase 1972

Title/Date: The Three Spirits, 1971
Artist: Ikayukta Tunnillie
Culture/Language Group: Inuit (Cape Dorset)
Media: Stonecut
Credit Line: SFU Art Collection. Purchase, 1973

Context:

Print making is a commercial art form that was introduced to the Inuit in the late 1950s, but adapts and builds upon a strong graphic tradition that reaches back over a thousand years. For centuries the Inuit have incised designs representing their beliefs in animal and human-like spirits on tools and amulets fashioned from ivory, stone, and musk ox horn. Appliquéd designs on hide and garments created by Inuit women evidence an equally vibrant tradition in sewing.

Like these ancient forms of artistic expression, Inuit prints visually narrate nomadic life illustrating the interplay between spirits, animals, and humans. The primary inspiration of Inuit artists are the animals, birds, and marine life of the Arctic. Other prominent themes include hunting, camp and family life, spirituality, and mythology.

Because the Inuit express a close relationship to the land in their prints, many view them as a window into pre-contact culture and values. Although this is true, these prints are also an expression of the experiences and aesthetics of individual artists who have witnessed profound changes in the second half of the 20th century. Despite the adoption of features of modern life and southern culture, many Inuit continue to have close ties with the land and consider their relationship to the land as essential to their culture and to their survival as distinct people. 

Additional Information - Cape Dorset Prints

These stonecut prints were purchased for the SFU art collection in the ealy 1970s.

Sources:

Buhai Barz, Sandra and Bente Roed. “Inuit Printmaking”. The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2008. Web. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/inuit-printmaking/

Canadian Museum of History. An Online Exhibition of Inuit Prints from Cape Dorset. 2015. Web. http://www.historymuseum.ca/capedorsetprints/introduction/

Hessel, Ingo. Inuit Art: An Introduction. 1998. Harry N. New York : Abrams Inc. Print.

Inuit Art:

Boyd Ryan, Leslie. Cape Dorset Prints, A Retrospective: Fifty Years of Printmaking at the Kinngait Studios. 2007. San Francisco: Pomegranate. Print.

Crandall, Richard. Inuit art: a history. 2000. Jefferson, N. Carolina: MacFarland & Company Inc. Print.

Goetz, Helga.  The Inuit Print: A Travelling Exhibition of the National Museum of Man, National Museums of Canada, and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. 1977. Ottawa: National Museum of Man, National Museums of Canada. Print.

Artist Information:

Canadian Women Artists History Initiative. “Ikayukta Tunnillie”. 2013. Web. http://cwahi.concordia.ca/sources/artists/displayArtist.php?ID_artist=5508

Canadian Women Artists History Initiative. “Pitseolak Ashoona”. 2012. Web. http://cwahi.concordia.ca/sources/artists/displayArtist.php?ID_artist=196

Kunnuk, Simeonie. “Pauta Saila: ‘I’ve been carving soapstone the whole time so that my family won’t go hungry.’” In Inuit Art Quarterly, 11.4. (1996): 4-9. Web. http://inuitartfoundation.org/wp-content/themes/udesign/images/Archives/1996_04.pdf