There are few artists that have had such a longstanding and extensive involvement with the Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU artistic community than Ohotaq Mikkigaq. He first started drawing and printmaking in the early 1960s during the formative years of the print program in Kinngait and was among the group of artists who contributed to the commercial success of the program . His first print Eskimo Fox Trapper was published in 1961 and from that point, Mikkigaq has been recognized for his ability to reimagine the landscape and the figures that can be found out on the land .
In the early years of his career Mikkigaq made use of bold colour in the creation of his small format prints. At this time, drawing was regarded as a preliminary step to the creation of prints, but would later become his preferred medium. Sharing a space with other artists in the Kinngait studio resulted in exposure to new techniques, materials, methods and ideas, which led Mikkigak to experimenting with large format pencil drawings .
Embedded in the intricate layers of Mikkigak’s landscape drawings are the stories and memories of the land captured through his colourful and gestural pencil strokes. His memories are mapped out using references to landmarks and sites of interest sometimes adopting the aerial view that is common among Inuit drawings and occasionally using syllabics to reveal his intimate knowledge of the land he depicts. Whether depicting birds, stones, fish or even houses, Mikkigaq captures the character of the nature of his surroundings.
In the past decade pencil drawing has gained recognition as a medium in the studio and is now being held in higher esteem as individual artworks. This shift in artistic focus towards a new medium allowed for more flexibility and expressionism in his work. Mikkigak had his work exhibited extensively during his life as well as posthumously across Canada and the United States. His pieces are part of the public collection ns of many notable institutions including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He has appeared in multiple publications including numerous times in the Inuit Art Quarterly.
1. Jane George, “For Cape Dorset, the Light Still Shines,” Nunatsiaq Online, October 16 2009, Accessed October 21 2016, http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/492_feature_for_cape_dorsets_printmakers_the_light_still_shines/.
2. Nancy Campbell, "Inuit Artist Ohotaq Mikkigak Draws on Landscapes of Ice and Memory," Canadian Art, 2012, Accessed October 20, 2016, https://canadianart.ca/features/the-colour-of-ice-ohotaq-mikkigak-and-the-landscape-of-memory/.
3. Jessica Newton, "Drawing LARGE in Cape Dorset," Inuit Art Quarterly 26 no.3/4 (Fall/Winter 2011): 14-20, Accessed October 20, 2016.