Artwork by Kenojuak Ashevak,  Talking Birds

Kenojuak Ashevak
Talking Birds

etching on aluminum
14.5 x 19 ins ( 36.8 x 48.3 cms )

Sold for $590.00
Sale date: February 21st 2018

Private Collection, Ontario
To coincide with the opening of their plant in Kingston, Ontario in 1963, Alcan Aluminum commissioned Kenojuak, using one of her drawings, to produce these etchings on aluminum.

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Kenojuak Ashevak
(1927 - 2013)

Kenojuak Ashevak was born in an igloo in an Inuit camp, Ikirasaq, at the southern coast of Baffin Island. Her father, Ushuakjuk, an Inuit hunter and fur trader, and her mother, Silaqqi,[1] named Kenojuak after Silaqqi's deceased father. According to this Inuit naming tradition, the love and respect that had been accorded to him during his lifetime would now pass on to their daughter.[2] Kenojuak also had a brother and a sister.

Kenojuak remembered Ushuakjuk as "a kind and benevolent man", but her father, a redoubtable shaman, "had more knowledge than average mortals, and he would help all the Inuit people." According to Kenojuak, her father believed he could predict weather, predict good hunting seasons and even turn into a walrus; he also had the ability "to make fish swarm at the surface so it was easier to fish."[3]

Her father had come into conflict with Christian converts, and some enemies assassinated him in a hunting camp in 1933, when she was only six.[2][4] After her father's murder, Kenojuak moved with her widowed mother Silaqqi and the rest of the family to the home of Silaqqi's mother, Koweesa, who taught her traditional crafts, including the repair of sealskins for trade with the Hudson's Bay Company and how to make waterproof clothes sewn with caribou sinew.

When she was 19, her mother, Silaqqi, and stepfather, Takpaugni, arranged for her to marry Johnniebo Ashevak (1923–1972), a local Inuit hunter. Kenojuak was reluctant, she said, even playfully throwing pebbles at him when he would approach her.[5] In time, however, she came to love him for his kindness and gentleness, a man who developed artistic talents in his own right and who sometimes collaborated with her on projects; the National Gallery of Canada exhibits two of Johnniebo's works, Taleelayo with Sea Bird (1965) and Hare Spirits (1960).[6] During this time and also later on, many of her children and grandchildren succumbed to disease, as eventually also did her husband of 26 years. Two daughters of Kenojuak, Jamasie and Mary, died in childhood, and a son, Qiqituk, was adopted at birth by another family, an Inuit custom that was common at the time.[2]