Sarni Pootoogook (1922 – 2003) was an accomplished graphic artist from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. Like many of her generation, she was attracted to the graphic arts during the early years of the printmaking program in Kinngait. As the sister of sculptor Pauta Saila (1916 – 2009) and wife of fellow printmaker Pudlat Pootoogook (1919 – n.d.), Sarni was surrounded by art makers and craftsmen her whole life. Pootoogook’s prints were featured in Cape Dorset Annual Print Collections
from the 1960s and the early 2000s.
Indicative of Pootoogook’s whimsical, graphic style is her piece Blue Bird and Sedna (2002). By employing multiple mediums within this work, etching and aquatint, Pootoogook is able to suggest different textures (skin, hair, feathers), while making the flattened profiles of her figures seem to jump off the page. The softness of colours, the strong sense of design and motif, are all elements that Pootoogook carried through her decades of artistic production .
Pootoogook’s first works have been featured in a few exhibitions abroad, including the touring show of L’art inuit, which moved through France in the 1980s. Her later prints may also be viewed in North American galleries, with the most recent inclusion being in the Open Channels (2019) exhibition at Âjagemô, Canada Council for the Arts in Ottawa, ON. Housing some of Pootoogook’s most impressive pieces are public collections such as the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Manitoba.