Starting in 1996, Pootoogook began a series of narrated black and white drawings initially depicting her grandfather Namonie’s life on the south Baffin coast. She later expanded the series with her own narratives as well as those relayed to her by her mother, Pitseolak Ashoona. The subjects range from the role and perception of shamans and abuse to gender relations and even murder. Her narrations often differentiate true events from stories. Pootoogook’s series eventually totaled 300 drawings, which she worked on over a period of five years, spurred on by her failing health.

Another series of carefully rendered drawings reveal the intimacies of domestic life. Women breastfeed, chew skins to soften them for hide tents, scrape furs, and darn clothing. In each image, Pootoogook emphasizes the tools for the tasks—needles attached to fine sinew for thread, harpoons and hooks for fishing, and the women’s knife, the ulu, always close at hand. Representations of family life and women are infrequent in Inuit art from this period. This series extends the autobiographical perspective first relayed by the artist’s mother, Pitseolak Ashoona, in her 1970 illustrated book, Pictures Out of My Life, and carried forward by Pootoogook’s daughter, Annie Pootoogook.

This project is made possible with generous support from West Baffin Eskimo Co-Operative.

Bio

Napachie Pootoogook (Inuit, born in 1938, Sako Island Camp, NT, Canada; died in 2002 Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, Canada) was the daughter of acclaimed Inuit artist Pitseolak Ashoona. Her work was shown alongside her own daughter Annie Pootoogook’s in the exhibition Windows on Kinngait, Feheley Fine Arts, Toronto, 2005—the first time their work was displayed together outside of Kinngait | Cape Dorset. In her later career, when depicting events from her life, Napachie Pootoogook experimented with figure drawing and lithography, producing more than 5,000 original works.

Exhibition Site

259 Lake Shore Blvd East

The life of this nondescript building reveals the area’s economic history. Its first tenant in 1945, the Standard Chemical Company, produced methanol, formaldehyde, and charcoal. A railway line to the south tethered the site to the movement of goods. By 1954, the building was divided into a warehouse and a showroom, a configuration that remained intact over the course of various leaseholders, including oil and electrical supply companies and a series of car dealerships. (The advertising of its most recent tenant, Volvo, is still visible on the façade.) This building’s fate is indeterminate, as real estate development is increasingly filling the voids left by industrial decline.

259 Lake Shore Blvd East
Toronto ON
M5A 3T7