• Feature

Kenojuak Ashevak

Inuit Art Icons in Comics

May 13, 2020
by Napatsi Folger

There is no doubt that Kenojuak Ashevak, CC, RCA (1927-2013) is an icon. Ashevak’s bright and bold images of birds, wildlife and people are some of most famous Inuit art around the world. Once while having lunch with my summer abroad classmates in Peru, someone shouted to me, as the resident Inuk, “hey I’m doing a crossword—how do you spell ‘Kenojuak’?” Her ubiquitous influence has been experienced by most Canadians, who have seen her art immortalized in Heritage Minutes, multiple postage stamps, and even on our ten dollar bill

With this comic, I wanted to show Ashevak in her everyday life, imagining the fanciful images that she created. The text featured in this comic comes from a quote by the artist during one of the many interviews she had with biographer Jean Blodgett. Kenojuak Ashevak was more than just a brilliant artist, she was also a skilled seamstress and a loving mother, and I wanted each panel to express the aspects of her life that inspired her art. Before moving to the Kinngait settlement (Cape Dorset), NU Ashevak lived a traditional life in hunting camps that followed the migration of food sources in the area. She continued many of those traditions even after moving into the Kinngait settlement with her family in 1966, which helped to foster the great beauty of her art. Her work is the outcome of the crossing of tradition and modern innovation which is one of the cornerstones of Inuit adaptation to an ever-changing world. 

Kenojuak Comic Panel 1

Kenojuak Comic Panel 2

Kenojuak Comic Panel 3

Kenojuak Comic Panel 4

Kenojuak Comic Panel 5

Kenojuak Comic Panel 6