It is with profound sadness that we announce the untimely death of Annie Pootoogook, an artist of remarkable talent and sensitivity who was at the forefront of the new wave of contemporary Inuit art.
Annie Pootoogook was born in 1969 in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. She began drawing in 1997 and although she did most of her work at home she was a steady presence at the Kinngait studios during the early part of her career. Annie was a member of an extraordinary artistic family. Her father, Eegyvadluk, was a talented carver and one of the first stonecut printmakers in the studios in Cape Dorset. Her mother, Napachie was a committed graphic artist and long-time contributor to the annual print collections. Her grandmother, Pitseolak Ashoona, was one of the first to experiment with the new medium of drawing during the transition years when Inuit were leaving their traditional camps and moving to permanent settlements in the Canadian Arctic. Pitseolak and Napachie went on to become two of the most prolific and highly respected Inuit graphic artists of their respective generations.
Annie Pootoogook was an instinctive chronicler of her times. She shared this sensibility with her mother and her grandmother, both of whom used their drawings to share their way of life with an outside audience. Annie’s drawings reflected her experience as a contemporary female artist living and working in the changing milieu of Canada’s far north. Although firmly rooted to the specifics of her time and place, she managed to transcend cultural boundaries and present the details of her everyday life in an engaging way, inviting the viewer into both her public and private worlds. From the apparently mundane (the line-up for the ATM machine at the Co-op store, watching television with her family) to the personal and intimate (her experience with spousal abuse, the loss of her mother) Annie expressed a wide range of content and emotions.
Annie had her first one person show in 2002 and was represented in several successful exhibitions during her career. She spent the summer of 2006 in Dufftown, Scotland where she was artist-in-residence at the Glenfiddich Distillery “Spirit off Creativity” program. Following a solo show at the The Power Plant gallery in Toronto, she went on to win the prestigious Sobey Arts Award in October and subsequently went on to exhibit at the Basel Art Fair and Documenta 12 in Kassel Germany. Her drawings are in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Toronto and several other notable institutions. Annie was the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary film by Site Media and her work has been shown in numerous public galleries in Canada and around the world.
Annie will be sorely missed by all of us at the West Baffin Eskimo Co-op, by her family and friends around the country and by the art world at large.