Myra Kukiiyaut

Myra Kukiiyaut was a talented artist from Qamani'tuaq (Baker Lake), NU. Kukiiyaut was a printmaker, graphic artist, sculptor and textile artist but is renowned mostly for her drawings. Her work was included in nearly every Baker Lake Annual Print Collection from 1971 to 1990. Kukiiyaut found her start in textiles, eventually experimenting with printmaking in the 1960s with the establishment of an arts and crafts program in Qamani’tuaq [1].

Kukiiyaut's playful graphics are often densely packed compositions depicting birds, shamans, animals, spirits and dreams. She combines bold, colourful figures into flowing, compact scenes. Her individual figures are generally a single hue or hues of a similar shade, and come together to create bright multi-coloured images. Her affinity for busy compositions can be seen in her 1976 print, Flock of Seven Birds. The elements on the page are balanced within a centralized, circular momentum while each maintaining a unique sense of directionality. This print demonstrates her skill at visualizing overlapping and intermingling characters. Kukiiyaut has credited the forms of clouds, wind and other fluid elements found in nature for inspiring her artistic style [2].

Kukiiyaut uses foreshortening to alter the perspective in some of her works. Though figures might exist on different perspective planes they all appear connected within her compositions. An example of this is her stencil Dream (1971) in which the main figure appears to look up towards the audience, while birds hide in the background behind the person’s shoulders. A small bird has replaced the figure’s left eye, creating the optical illusion that they could be looking in two directions simultaneously. A wolf and person dressed in a parka circle one another with other figures in the foreground, possibly suspended mid-air. The image imposes the appearance of a fish-eye lens and the all-encompassing reality within the dream.

In June of 1974 Kukiityaut attended the Arctic Women's Workshop organized by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in Toronto. The workshop provided Kukiiyaut the opportunity to share her artistic knowledge while learning about the different techniques and materials used across varying communities [3]. She was also a participant in Western University’s “Art and Cold Cash” project (2006), for which she drew pictures representative of the influences of the shift to a wage-based economy on Inuit communities [4]. Her works have been featured in numerous exhibitions across Canada and internationally in France, Belgium and Israel. Kukiiyaut's works are housed in major collections in Canada and the United States, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, National Gallery of Canada and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.



Citations/Footnotes

1. “Myra Kukiiyaut,” inuit.net - Aboriginal Galleries, accessed August 24, 2017, https://inuit.net/artists/b-inuitarteskimoart-Kukiiyaut_Myra.html.
2. Ibid.
3. “The Darkroom Project, Taloyoak: 1972-1973,” The Darkroom Project, accessed August 24, 2017, http://www.thedarkroomproject.net/arctic-womens-workshop/.
4. “Introduction to Myrah Kukiiyaut’s Drawings”, Art and Cold Cash, accessed January 09, 2018, http://www.uwo.ca/visarts/research/artcoldcash/drawings_myrahkukiiyaut.html