by Jessie Oonark presented by Galerie Elca London
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Galerie Elca London
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Jessie Oonark Print Retrospective
Jessie Oonark
35 Images from 1960 -1986
April 11 - May 6, 2014

Jessie Ooonark (1906-1985)

"Jessie Oonark was born in the area of northern Canada known as the  Barren Lands, north and west of the present-day village of Baker Lake,  Northwest Territories, where she settled in the late 1950s. Her  childhood and young adulthood were spent in the traditional pursuits of  an Inuit woman: dressing caribou and sealskins, and making parkas and  other items of traditional clothing. Oonark began her career as a  graphic artist in 1959, when a Canadian biologist working in Baker Lake  gave her art supplies. Her talent was immediately recognized, and she  was soon making drawings for sale. A selection of Oonark's drawings were  sent from Baker Lake to Cape Dorset, the only Inuit settlement issuing  prints at the time…. She was the only outsider ever included in the Cape  Dorset print program.

Oonark was a major force in the development of the graphic arts  program at Baker Lake in the 1960s and 1970s. Her singular talent was  rewarded by an art advisor at Baker Lake who gave Oonark her own studio  and a small salary to allow her the freedom of full-time artistic  creativity. (She had previously been working as a janitor at the local  church.) Between 1970 and 1985 more than 100 of Oonark's drawings were  translated into prints and issued in the annual Baker Lake print  editions.

A strong, bold graphic sense informs all of Oonark's work.  Traditional dress, women's facial tatoos, and shamanistic themes are  common in her art, yet they usually appear as isolated, fragmentary  forms, shaped into a graphically bold image rather than a comprehensible  narrative. Oonark is also well known as a textile artist, whose wool  and felt wall-hangings reveal her as a master of color and form."


    

Singing Northern Lights, 1985
25 x 36 in.  Stonecut & Stencil/Gravure sur Pierre Et Pochoir
I See Caribou, 1972
12 x 14 in.  Stonecut & Stencil/Gravure sur Pierre Et Pochoir
Two Fish Looking For Something To Eat, 1978
22 x 30 in.  Serigraph/Serigraphie
Two Rooms Inside The Iglu, 1982
22 x 30 in.  Stencil/Pochoir
Children Playing, 1979
15 x 22 in.  Stencil/Pochoir
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