• Feature

10 Inuvialuit Graphic Artists and Painters to Know

May 27, 2024
by IAQ

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement on June 5, we’re highlighting 40 Inuvialuit artists we think you should know in a four-part series. Today we’re looking at 10 graphic artists and painters from the region, including influential artists from the early years of Ulukhaktok printmaking like Harry Egotak to currently practicing artists like Darcie Bernhardt.

darcie_bernhardt_sinnaktuqDarcie Bernhardt Sinnaktuq (2023) Oil on canvas 121.9 x 152.4 cm COURTESY LA GUILDE © THE ARTIST

Darcie Bernhardt
Darcie Bernhardt is an Inuvialuk visual artist and curator from Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk) Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Their work was exhibited in INUA at the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq in Manitoba from 2021 to 2023 and in Family Patterns at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax from 2021 to 2022, and both are accessible as online exhibitions. They have co-curated two exhibitions: TETHER, at the 2022 Arctic Arts Summit in Whitehorse, YT, and Memory Keepers II | Nujimikwite’taqatijik II, at Art in the Open in Charlottetown, PEI, in 2019. With a plethora of experience, we are excited to see what they do next! 

Harry Egotak Fighting a Bear (Two Men Fighting a Bear) (1962) Sealskin stencil 30 x 40 cm COURTESY FIRST ARTS © THE ARTIST

Harry Egotak
Harry Egotak (1925–2009) was a graphic artist and printmaker who was based in Ulukhaktok, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Alongside other graphic artists, including Helen Kalvak, CM, RCA (1901–1984) and Victor Ekootak (1916–65), he was involved in the early days of printmaking in Ulukhaktok. Egotak continued to print works at the co-op until the late 1980s. His artwork was featured in Holman: Forty Years of Graphic Art in 2001 at Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq, known prior to 2020 as the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the exhibition was briefly revived as an online exhibition of the same name by a Virtual Museum of Canada project in 2020.

Victor Ekootak Preparing Skins (1964) Stonecut 46.3 x 60.6 cm COURTESY WAG-QAUMAJUQ © THE ARTIST

Victor Ekootak
Victor Ekootak (1916–65) was a graphic artist and sculptor based in Ulukhaktok, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. One of the founding artists of the Ulukhaktok Arts Centre, formerly the Holman Eskimo Co-operative, his work is featured in a number of the annual Holman print collections. The co-operative was focused on sealskin printing at its inception, but Ekootak’s sculpting skills transferred well into stonecut printmaking. His work has been featured in many exhibitions, including First Sign of Spring: Inuit Prints from the Collections 1959–1970 in 2022 at the Art Gallery of Sudbury in Ontario. His daughter Elsie Klengenberg is also a renowned graphic artist. 

Sheena Gibson Dancer and Two Bears (2020) Acrylic © THE ARTIST

Sheena Gibson
Sheena Gibson is an Inuvialuk painter who was born in Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT,  and raised in Kelowna, BC. Inspired by impressionist painters, her colourful artwork focuses on Inuvialuit life and culture. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, and her work was featured alongside fellow Inuvialuk Kablusiak in the 2021 exhibition Generous Acts at Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre in Edmonton, AB. The exhibition featured works that responded to the notion of self-care in the midst of a global pandemic. 

Uumati Kisoun-Inuarak Heart of Denendeh (2021) Watercolour © THE ARTIST

Uumati Kisoun-Inuarak
Uumati Kisoun-Inuarak is an emerging Two-Spirit and queer multimedia artist who works primarily in painting and drawing. They are Inuvialuit, Inupiaq, Inuit, Kaska Dene and Vuntut Gwich’in. Born and raised in Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, they are currently based in Victoria, BC. In 2022 they participated in the Indigenous Emerging Artists Program at Tah’lum Indigenous Artists Collective, and their work was included in the group exhibition The Stories We Belong To at Open Space in Victoria, BC, from 2022–2023. This year, their work is included in the 7th Contemporary Native Art Biennial in Montreal and Saint-Hyacinthe, QC. 

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Elsie Klengenberg Creation (1994) Stencil 56 x 55 cm COURTESY IAF © THE ARTIST

Elsie Klengenberg
Elsie Klengenberg is a graphic artist from Ulukhaktok, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. In the early 1980s, Klengenberg designed a new stenciling technique with Mary Okheena and Mabel Nigiyok that gave a 3D appearance to prints. Like her father, Victor Ekootak, she has had prints featured in many Holman print collections. Her work was featured in the solo exhibition Elsie Klengenberg: The Legend of Uvajuq in 1999 at Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq which then travelled nationally and internationally. More recently, a series of prints that she made in collaboration with her daughter Helen Klengenberg were included in To Remain Connected in 2022 at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone, North Carolina.

Stanley Elonak Klengenberg Distant Mirage of Travellers (1986) Printmaker: Elsie Klengenberg Stencil 50.5 x 65.5 cm COURTESY WADDINGTON’S © THE ARTIST

Stanley Elonak Klengenberg
Stanley Elonak Klengenberg (1964–1999) the grandson of Victor Ekootak and the son of Elsie and Patrick Akovak Klengenberg (1944–1976), was in the third generation of an artistic family. Based in Ulukhaktok, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, he began drawing at a young age and his first featured work was in the 1982 Holman print collection. Preferring to draw, he left the printing of his images to others. His work has been featured in many exhibitions, including the 2024 exhibition Waterways: Works from the Museum Art Collection at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, NT. 

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Brian Kowichuk Patience (2022) Paint 243.8 x 121.9 cm © THE ARTIST

Brian Kowikchuk
Brian Kowikchuk is an avid painter from Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk) and Inuvik in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, and his murals can be spotted in both communities. Helping to build community resiliency through arts programming, he works with local organizations, including The Artists Hub, Western Arctic Youth Collective and AYDA, to provide numerous painting workshops across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Outside of painting, Kowikchuck works for the regional corporation and has worked for various local organizations, including Tusaayaksat as the Guest Editor for the Sanauyat / Art issue in 2020.

Jessica Malegana Ulu (2021) Watercolour, coloured pencil and ink © THE ARTIST

Jessica Malegana
Jessica Malegana is a multimedia artist from Aklavik and Inuvik in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, currently based in Edmonton, AB. In addition to digital illustration, she makes works on paper using pencil, coloured pencil, watercolour and ink, and Tłı̨chǫ painter Archie Beaulieu (1952–2017) inspired her to try out acrylics. Malegana’s subject matter is based on her cultural heritage and memories of growing up in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, and her digital artwork has been featured in the IAQ issues Colour in 2022 and Multiples in 2023, as well as in Tusaayaksat’s The Legacies Issue in 2023. 

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Agnes Nanogak Goose Four Winds (1986) Printmaker: Mona Ohoveluk Kuneyuna Lithograph and stencil 50.2 x 66 cm COURTESY NORTHERN IMAGES © THE ARTIST

Agnes Nanogak Goose
Agnes Nanogak Goose (1925–2001) was a graphic artist and printmaker from Ulukhaktok, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Her work was first included in the 1967 Holman print collection and was often featured for years afterwards as she became one of the most prolific artists from Ulukhaktok. Her artwork has been featured in numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally, including a posthumous solo exhibition at Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq. Her illustrations have been featured in Tales from the Igloo (1972) and More Tales from the Igloo: As Told by Agnes Nanogak (1986).

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