|Napachie Pootoogook "Napachie Drawing in her Tent" 1984-85 |
Collection of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-Operative Ltd., on loan to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Napachie Pootoogook (1938-2002) began drawing with her mother, acclaimed Inuit artist, Pitseolak Ashuna. Despite the title of this drawing, something about this charming scene makes me wonder if the artist wasn't remembering watching and learning from her own mother? Or, it certainly could be a self-portrait, and the eager, watching, child could be one of her own many children.
Pootoogook was the mother of eleven children (including contemporary artist Annie Pootoogook) and was highly respected in her community as both an accomplished artist and as someone who knew "the old ways." She experienced many hard times, and spoke openly but not bitterly about the dark side of life. Not all of her children survived to adulthood. One of her most horrifying experiences was as a young mother in a tent out on the land, having to singlehandedly fight off a polar bear who was attempting to snatch her youngest child. It was a prolonged attack, after several hours she managed to run it off by pouring gasoline on its face. Pootoogook was also known to be a talented throat singer, and was in great demand as a performer and also a teacher of this traditional Inuit singing technique. Her artwork is in many major collections and museums in Canada and also abroad.