Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak featured in new Heritage Minute
“Now galleries all over the world present my work”
One of Nunavut’s most famous artists, Kenojuak Ashevak, is the focus of the latest Heritage Minute, one in a series of 60-second vignettes illustrating important moments in Canadian history.
Historica Canada released the short film on Ashevak Oct. 20.
“There’s no one Inuit word for art,” the narrator says at the opening of the clip. “We say it is to transfer something from the real to the unreal.”
The Heritage Minute stars Iqaluit actress Miali Buscemi as a young Ashevak, describing her move into the settlement of Cape Dorset in the early 1950s so her children could attend school.
That’s where the late Ashevak went on to become a founding member of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, Cape Dorset’s well-known printmaking studio.
“My grandmother taught me how to survive,” Ashevak says in the video. “At first, we sold bags and crafts, and now galleries all over the world present my work, from Paris to Tokyo.”
The clip closes with an older Ashevak, smiling as she works on a print depicting colourful birds.
Ashevak, who died in Cape Dorset in 2013 at age 85, was renowned for her bird images dating back to the release of the Enchanted Owl in 1960, which went on to become her best-known print.
Ashevak’s story is the 85th vignette in the Heritage Minute collection and the first to be produced in Inuktitut, along with English and French. It was filmed on location in Cape Dorset earlier this year.
The 60-second film was written and directed by Tess Girard and Ryan J. Noth and features animation that brings some of Ashevak’s prints to life. The series is funded by the federal department of Canadian Heritage.