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Kinngait: Riding Light Into The World

Set in the Canadian Arctic, this is an intimate, first-hand account of how the isolated Inuit community of Cape Dorset became the internationally celebrated art capital of the North. This is the story of the success of Inuit artists who emerged from the most unlikely circumstances to capture the imaginations of people around the world.

The Baffin Island community of Cape Dorset is world-renowned for the art produced at the Inuit owned and operated Kinngait Studios. Weaving together many voices with images of iconic artworks, the film is a captivating chronicle of how art making replaced fur-trapping in the 1950s, detailing the complex relationships between the artists and their network of supporters. ‘Kinngait: Riding Light Into The World’ brings together artworks of successive generations that eloquently illustrate the immense changes experienced by Inuit to their way of life and their environment over the past half-century. Featuring hauntingly beautiful Arctic scenery and evocative music by Tanya Tagaq, Lucie Idlout and other contemporary Inuit performers.

Cape Dorset, Nunavut: The Epicentre of Inuit Art



The Inuit Artists' Print database assembles information on 8000 prints produced by Canadian Inuit artists from 1957 to the present. The information derives from the inspection of prints in many collections. It is not a catalogue of prints in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada although you can search for prints in the Gallery's collection here. The database is an online version of The Inuit Artists Print Workbook, edited by Sandra B. Barz (3rd edition. New York: Arts & Culture of the North, 2004). It is designed to help researchers, museum staff, exhibition curators, collectors, dealers and anyone interested in Inuit prints to identify them and to learn more about them.



Graphic Arts of the Inuit: Kenojuak
By Jean Blodgett. Printed by The Mintmark Press, Audited Editions in the Fine Arts.
This limited edition book is bound in caribou hide inside a hard case with an exclusive limited edition hand coloured engraving titled “Myself & I” (1981). “Every copy is numbered in edition and signed by the artist and author. In the tradition of fine book publishing great care was taken by highly skilled craftsmen in the printing, colour separation and binding of this book. All the text is illustrated with numerous contemporary and archival photographs printed in a duotone process and the archival material in a sepia tone. Every effort was made to capture the quality of the inking on the original prints. The luxurious binding utilizes genuine caribou skin that has been hand bleached, which involved many stages of repeated scraping, soaking and drying. Each book has the individuality of the marking and variations of colour of the caribou skin. Every book was finished by hand with careful attention to detailing with hand sewn and bone head and tail bands.”







Cape Dorset Prints | A Retrospective  Fifty Years of Printmaking at the Kinngait Studios
by Leslie Boyd Ryan
Cape Dorset Prints: A Retrospective is the first book to tell the story of the Kinngait Studios' fifty-year history, through thirteen essays by the artists, visiting artists, art historians, and Co-op founders.











The National Film Board

John Feeney, 1963

This documentary shows how an Inuit artist's drawings are transferred to stone, printed and sold. Kenojuak Ashevak became the first woman involved with the printmaking co-operative in Cape Dorset. This film was nominated for the 1963 Documentary Short Subject Oscar®.





Lithography works on the principle that grease and water repel each other. There is no carving involved. The artist draws on a stone with a greasy crayon and then covers the stone with a thin film of water. the oily ink will stick to the greasy image but not to the water-covered areas.





Over the past 55 years printers have had to make their own chops to indicate that they printed a particular print. The chop was cut from linoleum often from the floor tiles in the studios. The cut tile is then attached to a piece of wood so the printer can orient the chop properly on the printed impression. In the early days (up to and sometimes including 1974*) artists chops were used instead of their signatures. I assume that the printers themselves would carve the artists chops for the artists because of their abilities with sharp delicate operations. Some artists like Kananginak certainly had the ability to cut his own chops but this is conjecture. - William Ritchie

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From the playlist : The 1950s: Television and the Move to Montreal
When director John Feeney set out for Cape Dorset, Baffin Island in the spring of 1957, it was with the intention of shooting two documentaries, one on Eskimo stone carvers and one on the community itself. Bad weather and other factors made it impossible to complete the shooting of the community film. Instead, Feeney concentrated on the carvers’ film. This short film would be blown up to 35 mm and distributed theatrically in Canada and abroad and would eventually earn an Oscar® nomination.
This documentary shows the inspiration behind Inuit sculpture. The Inuit approach to the work is to release the image the artist sees imprisoned in the rough stone. The film centres on an old legend about the carving of the image of a sea spirit to bring food to a hungry camp.



Cape Dorset Sculpture

Cape Dorset Sculpture showcases an extraordinary collection of outstanding works of contemporary Inuit stone sculpture, with related graphic works and classic older carvings. All the artists are from the Arctic community of Cape Dorset, Nunavut, which has had the single greatest impact on the worldwide recognition of Inuit art.
Featured in the book are new sculptures by forty-four leading artists, many of whom were instrumental in shaping the look and direction of Inuit art. By turns powerful and enchanting, these works explore richly varied themes such as Arctic wildlife; life in the home, the community, and on the land; and shaman, transformations, and fantastic beings.
In his introduction, Terry Ryan recalls the early days of art-making in Cape Dorset. Derek Norton and Nigel Reading provide vital background information on the art and artists of Cape Dorset. The artists contribute stories and personal insights about their sculptures.
The success of Inuit artists from Cape Dorset, particularly the first generation of sculptors and the graphic artists, has inspired them to constantly reinvent their art and to explore new directions. Many of the younger artists, who are from families that were the original art-makers of the Arctic, are following in their ancestors’ path but making the art their own.
Derek Norton and Nigel Reading are two of the founders of the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver. Terry Ryan is director emeritus of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-Operative in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, and director of Dorset Fine Arts in Toronto.
    •    Written by Derek Norton and Nigel Reading
    •    Edited by Saeko Usukawa
    •    Introduction by Terry Ryan
    •    Photographs by Kenji Nagai
    •    Published in Canada by Douglas & McIntyre
    •    Published in the U.S. by University of Washington Press

An Introduction
By: Ingo Hessel
Photographs by: Dieter Hessel
The Inuit of the Canadian Arctic have created a contemporary art form that is recognized and appreciated around the world for its power and exquisite beauty, an art that embodies the harsh arctic environment and a unique way of life, as well as traditional myths and beliefs. Engaging and authoritative, Inuit Art: An Introduction explores Inuit art from historical, cultural and aesthetic perspectives. The engrossing story begins with an outline of the roots of Inuit art in prehistoric times and through the historical period that began with the arrival of Europeans in the sixteenth century. The emergence of Inuit art as we know it came about in the late 1940s, partly through the encouragement of writer and artist James Houston, who also introduced printmaking to Inuit artists. Inspired by his support, Inuit artists quickly brought their art to life, attracting a wide audience almost overnight, and they have continued to develop and refine their work over the past fifty years. To enrich our understanding of the art, Ingo Hessel also provides descriptions of techniques and materials.



Art from the Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection. A gorgeous retrospective on the transformation of Inuit art in the 20th century, mirroring the vast and poignant cultural changes in the North.
In response to a rapidly changing Arctic environment, Inuit have had to cope with the transition from a traditional lifestyle to the disturbing realities of globalization and climate change. Inuit art in the latter half of the 20th century reflects the reciprocal stimulus of contact with Euro-Canadians and embodies the evolution of a modern Inuit aesthetic that springs from an ancient cultural context, creating an exciting new hybridized art form.
Inuit Modern: Art from the Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection situates modern Inuit art within a larger framework that reinterprets the Canadian Arctic. Essays by leading Canadian scholars in the field including Ingo Hessel, Robert McGhee, Christine Laloude, Heather Igloliorte, Dorothy Eber and Bernadette Driscoll Engelstad examine the social, political and cultural transformation through the dynamic lens of colonial influence and agency. Inuit Modern also features interviews with David Ruben Piqtoukun and Zacharias Kunuk.


-Kananginak Pootoogook at the 2017 Biennale di Venezia MORE>


- Dorset Fine Arts is pleased to announce that Kenojuak Ashevak's stonecut print Owl's Bouquet from 2007 is part of a commemorative bank note celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation. MORE>