Inuit Artist Annie Pootoogook Passes Away

Sep 26, 2016

The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts’s (MoCNA) staff is saddened to hear of the sudden and unexpected passing of Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook. She was a deeply powerful artist who pushed the boundaries of Indigenous arts, and her work will continue to represent the best of contemporary Indigenous feminist discourse. Now more than ever, Pootoogook’s work is important and vital to the plight of Native women in Canada, and throughout the rest of the world.

Rest in Peace, Annie.

Annie Pootoogook’s work is currently on display in the Akunnittinni: A Kinngait Family Portrait—Pitseolak Ashoona | Napachie Pootoogook | Annie Pootoogook exhibition which is curated by MoCNA’s Membership and Program Manager Andrea Hanley (Navajo).

A Portrait of Pitseolak by Annie Pootoogook, pencil crayon, ink, Inuit, Cape Dorset (2003/2004)

Annie Pootoogook, A Portrait of Pitseolak, 2003-04, Pencil Crayon, Ink, Courtesy Edward J. Guarino Collection

Annie Pootoogook (1969-2016)

Annie Pootoogook began drawing in 1997 under the encouragement of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset. She quickly developed a preference for drawing scenes from her own life, and became a prolific graphic artist in the intervening years. In 2003, Annie’s first print was released: an etching and aquatint drawn on copper plate. The image titled, Interior and Exterior, is a memory of the artist’s childhood, lovingly recording the particulars of settlement life in Cape Dorset in the 1970s. Her solo exhibition at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, and subsequent win of the Sobey Art Award – both in 2006, as well as her participation at Documenta in 2007, have established her as the leading contemporary Inuit graphic artist. Annie is the daughter of Napachie and Eegyvudluk Pootoogook, and the granddaughter of renowned artist Pitseolak Ashoona. Annie’s artwork challenges conventional expectations of “Inuit” art. Her subjects are not Arctic animals or scenes of nomadic existence from a time before settlement life; rather, her images reflect her experiences as a female artist living and working in contemporary Canada. Like her grandmother Pitseolak before her, Annie is an instinctive chronicler of her times. She fills her domestic interiors with details such as clocks and calendars, graduation photos, and Inuktitut messages stuck to the fridge in contemporary Inuit kitchens. Amongst meticulous depictions of modern outpost camp life and scenes peopled by local Cape Dorset personalities, Annie’s graphics are peppered with images of ATM cash machines, Playboy-style eroticism, the social services office, spousal abuse and the Iraqi war on television. The death of her mother Napachie in 2002 led Annie to explore themes of mortality and spirituality.*

*Bio cited with permission from Feheley Fine Arts.