Siassie Kenneally was a graphic artist based out of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. Born in 1969 in Iqalugajuk, Kenneally hailed from an established artistic family. Her late father Qaqaq Ashoona (1928-1996) was a noted carver and her mother, Mayoreak Ashoona, RCA, has been a staple of the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection since the 1960s. She is the granddaughter of celebrated graphic artist Pitseolak Ashoona (c. 1904-1983) and cousin to Shuvinai Ashoona, RCA and Annie Pootoogook (1969-2016).
Kenneally began drawing in 2004 at the Kinngait Studios, where she frequently composed finely detailed prints and drawings in coloured pencil, ink and crayon . Her work draws upon the material culture of the North as well as her memories, in particular, those from her childhood on the land. Her representation of traditional objects was partly influenced by learning to hunt and live off the land at a young age. Kenneally has also spoken about how the lessons learned from her father concerning the balance between humans, animals and the land deeply informed her practice .
Kenneally often experimented with different fields of view and depth in her work, opting for detailed naturalistic images with vibrant colours. Her early works tended to focus on landscapes from a linear perspective, such as Landscape Inukshuk in the Far Back (2006) in which Kenneally incorporates the changing textures of the tundra and coastline in black-and-white. In her more recent works, Kenneally began to shift perspectives, depicting members of her community engaged in different activities. Works like My Daughter’s First Amautiq (2015) and Target Practice (2016) are large-scale scenes that maintain a high degree of detail through refined artistic techniques. In additional works, Kenneally relays the textures and qualities of her subjects through cross-hatching and blending tones. Preparing traditional food is also a common theme for Kenneally, appearing in works such as Dried Fish (2006)—the bright orange and pink tones of the meat contrast the darkly shaded tail fins and delicately scaled skin—and Dessert for Women’s Feast (2017)—a bird’s eye view of an open seal filled with fruit.
Kenneally’s works have been featured in several exhibitions and at multiple institutions throughout Canada and the United States, including the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, AB and the McMichael Canadain Art Collection in Kleinburg, ON. Her solo exhibition All the Things That I Have Seen (2017) took place at Feheley Fine Arts in Toronto, ON. The exhibition included a large drawing of the same name, completed in 2016 after the death of her son, depicting Kenneally as an atlas-like figure supporting a segmented globe populated with the material objects that literally and figuratively comprised her world . Kenneally’s work is currently held in the collections of the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, ON.
1. “Siassie Kenneally,” Dorset Fine Arts, accessed November 6, 2017, http://www.dorsetfinearts.com/siassie-kenneally.
2. “Siassie Kenneally,” Spirit Wrestler Gallery, accessed August 20, 2018, http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php?artists_id=1075.
3. Siassie Kenneally, “Siassie Kenneally: All the Things That I Have Seen,” Inuit Art Quarterly 30, no.4 (Winter 2017): 40-45.