North Shore Historic Art

Jessie Oonark (1906-1985)

Jessie Oonark was an Inuit artist from an area west of Baker Lake. She spent her early years as a hunter's wife, designing and making ornate leather clothing. Canadian Wildlife Service biologist Andrew MacPherson was impressed by her work and encouraged her to draw with pencil and paper. She began drawing in 1959. Within a year, her work was included in the annual Cape Dorset print collection. Her pen drawings, crayons, needlework hangings and clothing all preserve and record the customs and cultural history of the Inuit people. Her work is widely known and was often exhibited at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the Winnipeg Art Gallery (1970), the Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art in Toronto (1970 and 1971), Robertson Galleries in Ottawa (1971) and a travelling exhibition which was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The National Museum of Man in Ottawa has purchased 90 of her drawings. 


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2011 North Shore Historic Art