Napachie Pootoogook

1938-2002

Napachie was born in 1938 at Sako, a small camp on south Baffin Island. Napachie was the only daughter of the late Pitseolak Ashoona.

Napachie began to draw in the late 1950's while living at Keakto, a camp near Cape Dorset. Several people living at the camp, including Napachie's mother and Kenojuak Ashevak had already begun to draw, encouraged by James Houston. Napachie’s early drawing exhibited a free and uninhibited style, still very evident in her contemporary works. She incorporates many aspects of Inuit culture in her work, usually retrieved from her own personal experience.

For all but a few years in the early 1970's, Napachie drew consistently. In the mid-1970's she experimented with mixed media works using coloured pencil and black felt pen in conjunction with acrylic paints. In 1979 and 1980 there were solo exhibitions of these works. More recently, her work was included in the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s 1994 exhibition entitled Isumavut: The Artistic Expression of Nine Cape Dorset Women.

Napachie’s later work focused on local history and stories about people and events in the Cape Dorset area, often with accompanying text to explain the circumstances. She thought of herself in her maturing years as an historian and chronicler of local oral history, and she amassed a unique and important body of work. A selection of these drawings, along with a retrospective of her earlier work was exhibited and catalogued by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in their 1999 exhibition Three Women, Three Generations. This exhibition also featured the work of her mother, Pitseolak Ashoona, and her niece, Shuvinai Ashoona. A solo exhibition of her later autobiographical works opened in 2004 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The 2003 Annual Graphics Collection was dedicated to Napachie Pootoogook, in recognition of her many memorable images and life’s work.

COLLECTIONS:

Inuit Art Centre, Indian and Northern Affairs, Ottawa, Ontario; Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba; The National Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario; Private collections: Canada, USA, Australia

REFERENCES:

Rosenberg, Ann, Review: Shuvinai Ashoona, Galleries West, Fall/Winter 2007, 33.
Ryan, Leslie Boyd, Cape Dorset Prints: A Retrospective, San Francisco: Pomegranate, 2007.
Telephone interview with Shuvinai Ashoona conducted with Robert Kussy (son-in-law of Kiawak Ashoona), Inuit Art Centre, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, November , 2000.