Three Generations of Inuit Artists Depict Daily Life, and Abuse of Women

"Couple Sleeping," 2003-04, by Annie Pootoogook. Pencil, colored pencil and ink on pencil.

Aug. 28, 2017

For over half a century, Cape Dorset, a small Arctic town in the far northeast of Canada, has been a center of Inuit art. The drawings by three generations of Inuit women artists—a mother, her daughter and her granddaughter—now on display at the Museum of American Indian, is but a taste of the extraordinary artistic output produced in this isolated community.

Pitseolak Ashoona, Napachie Pootoogook and Annie Pootoogook all express strong emotions, but each sees her community through a different lens. The work of Pitseolak Ashoona, the eldest of the three artists, was drawn to memories of her childhood of family activities and a life of nomadic hunting and fishing. The drawings of her daughter, Napachie Pootoogook, are darker, depicting the blight of alcoholism and the sexual exploitation of women. Annie Pootoogook, the first Inuit artist to show at Venice's Biennale Arte, takes a wry look at domestic life affected by the encroachments of popular culture as well as the continued abuse of women.

"Akunnittinni: A Kinngait Family Portrait" (the Inuktitut word akunnittinni means “between us") is on display until Jan. 8. The museum is at 1 Bowling Green; admission is free.

 Pitseolak Ashoona (1904–1983)


Napachie Pootoogook (1938-2002)


Annie Pootoogook  (1969-2016)