Kiakshuk

Kiakshuk was a graphic artist based in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, and was part of the early days of the drawing and printmaking program in Kinngait. In addition to being a versatile artist, he was also a well-known and respected storyteller and elder. His son Lukta Qiatsuq was a graphic artist and sculptor who often interpreted his father’s drawings into stonecuts and stencils [1]. Kiakshuk’s two daughters, Ishuhungitok Pootoogook and Paunichea were also known for their graphic artwork [2].

Kiakshuk was one of the first in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU to join the drawing and printmaking program at the and between 1960 and his passing in 1966, he created approximately 650 drawings and 52 prints [3]. Kiakshuk was in his seventies and an elder when he began making prints and quickly became an important participant in the development of the Kinngait graphic arts scene. As a printer, his preferred medium was engraving due to the direct nature of the process [4].

Kiakshuk was a well-known storyteller and was highly respected for his ability to translate oral histories and tales of the hunt, animals, families and spirits into graphic media [5]. The artist was also able to capture true to life moments in his art, which were sourced from his own experiences or those shared with him [6]. His print Strange Scene (1964) shows three figures taking a break as they travel between camps; one person is in the process of removing their boots, while another has just come back from hunting and in the background three animals are settling down to a meal of seal. However, there is also something amiss in the scene, as the people captured stare straight back at the viewer and have alarmed expressions. Whatever is causing alarm, is positioned in the same direction as the viewer, and could be a humorous poke at the whomever might be looking at the print.

Kiakshuk’s art was a mainstay of the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection from 1960-1967. He appeared in a 1958 National Film Board film called The Living Stone where his storytelling and traditional singing skills were featured [7]. In 1973 he and Inuit artist Pudlo illustrated a book entitled Eskimo Songs and Stories, a book of traditional Inuit songs and stories gathered by Knud Rasmussen (1879-1938) during his time in the Arctic. Kiakshuk’s work has been exhibited worldwide and his works are part of permanent collections across North America at institutions such as the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, ON, the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, NT, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY, USA, and many more.



Citations/Footnotes

  1. Katilvik, “Kiakshuk”, accessed February 15, 2019 from http://www.katilvik.com/content/bio/view.php?bid=1465&criteria=community&q=Cape%20Dorset
  2. Spirit Wrestler Gallery, “Kiakshuk”, accessed February 15, 2019 from http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php?artists_id=341
  3. Dorothy LeBarge, From Drawing to Print: Perception and Process in Cape Dorset Art (Calgary, AB: Glenbow Museum, 1986), 40.
  4. Canadian Centre for Contemporary Art, “Kiakshuk”, accessed February 15, 2019 from http://ccca.concordia.ca/artists/artist_info.html?languagePref=en&link_id=5242&artist=+Kiakshuk
  5. Ibid.
  6. Katilvik, “Kiakshuk”, accessed February 15, 2019 from http://www.katilvik.com/content/bio/view.php?bid=1465&criteria=community&q=Cape%20Dorset
  7. Madrona Gallery, “Kiakshuk”, accessed February 15, 2019 from http://www.madronagallery.com/artists/2016-1