A prolific Canadian Inuit artist, Mary Pudlat retained clear memories of her early years living in the traditional Inuit hunting lifestyle in the area near Povungnituk in Arctic Quebec. Orphaned as a teenager, she lived for a while with her brother in Ivujivik before moving to Baffin Island in the early-1940s. There she married Samuelie Pudlat in 1943 and continued to live in the traditional semi-nomadic camps along the south shore of Baffin Island until she and her husband and children moved permanently to Cape Dorset in 1963.
At the time of Pudlat's arrival in Cape Dorset the new West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative fine arts program was gaining momentum, and she began to explore her own talent for sculpting in soapstone and for drawing. Pudlat's artwork, tentative at first, became increasingly confident. Like many other Inuit artists she turned to her experience on the land for inspiration, carving and drawing birds, fish, human figures, and activities from her traditional culture.
The selection of one of Mary’s images of a bear for inclusion in the 1964-1965 Cape Dorset Print Collection gave her initial encouragement, but the demands of her young family and custodial work that she occasionally performed for the Co-operative left her limited time for her art in the years that followed. However, after her husband's death in 1979 and with her children becoming more independent, Pudlat returned to drawing during the 1980s.