Francoise Oklaga


Françoise Oklaga was an illustrator, textile artist, carver and printmaker from Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake), NU. Born in a camp on the western coast of Hudson Bay, she was adopted early in life and grew up in Igluligaarjuk (Chesterfield Inlet) [1] and, later, Salliq (Coral Harbour). Oklaga’s older brothers are the celebrated Cape Dorset artists Pudlo Pudlat and Ooshutsiak Pudlat [2]. Her work is notable for its exuberant handling of colour and shape, leading many to remark on a sense of joyfulness in her pieces.

Oklaga began her artistic practice when she and husband Emile came to Qamani’tuaq in 1975 [3]. Although busy with her twelve children and full-time employment at the Sewing Centre, Oklaga’s works were featured in the Annual Baker Lake Print Collection consistently between 1981 and 1988 (the last year it was produced). Her work is bright and colourful, often referencing shamanistic transformation and the unity between humans, animals, and land. Oklaga’s colours predominate the lines and forms of her work, and carry expressions of warmth, joy, and spirit [4].

In They All Want the Seal (1988), Oklaga’s bold colour use is on full display, with colours and figures bursting in and out of the edges of the page. By omitting outlines on the background, Oklaga uses only colour to delineate purple sky from brown land and blue water. The minute outlines on certain faces reveal them to be focal points, a common feature of Oklaga’s other works. Here, the setting sun peers over the horizon as the foxes and human engage in a stand-off with the viewer for control of the small seal. 

Beyond the Baker Lake Print Collection, Oklaga’s work has been featured in many exhibitions in North America, and even in Europe. Her first solo show, Coloured Drawings by Françoise Oklaga of Baker Lake, was hosted by the Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art in Toronto, ON, in 1982.  Most recently, she was featured in Temporal (Re)Imaginings (2016) at the Canada Council in Ottawa, ON [5]. Her works are held in public collections like the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Canadian Museum of History, and the Art Gallery of Guelph.

About Francoise Oklaga

Medium:

Drawing, Printmaking, Textile

Artistic Community:

Qamani'tuaq (Baker Lake), NU

Date of Birth:

Artists may have multiple birth years listed as a result of when and where they were born. For example, an artist born in the early twentieth century in a camp outside of a community centre may not know/have known their exact date of birth and identified different years.

1924

Date of Death:

Artists may have multiple dates of death listed as a result of when and where they passed away. Similar to date of birth, an artist may have passed away outside of a community centre or in another community resulting in different dates being recorded.

1991