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Jessie Oonark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessie Oonark, Keewatin Artist

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 1950's. She spent her childhood and young adulthood in the traditional pursuits of Inuit women: 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 creating drawings for sale. A selection of Oonark drawings were sent from Baker Lake to cape Dorset, the only Inuit settlement issuing prints at the time. Oonark thus became the first outsider ever included in the Cape Dorset print program.

A strong, bold, graphic imagery characterizes all of Oonark's work. She often features traditional dress, women's facial tattoos, and shamanistic themes in her art, yet these images usually appear as isolated, fragmentary forms. She then shapes these forms into a strikingly bold image, rather than straightforward narrative. Oonark is also well-known as a textile artist. Her wool and felt wall-hangings reveal her mastery of color and form.

 

 


Collections by Jessie Oonark

Jessie Oonark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessie Oonark, Keewatin Artist

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 1950's. She spent her childhood and young adulthood in the traditional pursuits of Inuit women: 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 creating drawings for sale. A selection of Oonark drawings were sent from Baker Lake to cape Dorset, the only Inuit settlement issuing prints at the time. Oonark thus became the first outsider ever included in the Cape Dorset print program.

A strong, bold, graphic imagery characterizes all of Oonark's work. She often features traditional dress, women's facial tattoos, and shamanistic themes in her art, yet these images usually appear as isolated, fragmentary forms. She then shapes these forms into a strikingly bold image, rather than straightforward narrative. Oonark is also well-known as a textile artist. Her wool and felt wall-hangings reveal her mastery of color and form.

 

 


Collections by Jessie Oonark

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