Iyola (Iola) Kingwatsiak was born in Kinngait in the Qikiqtaaluk Region (Baffin Island). He was a visual artist that specialized in the creation of carvings, drawings and prints. Kingwatsiak started to develop his artistic practice in Kinngait (Cape Dorset) and resided there for the remainder of his life. Kingwatsiak commenced his artistic practice as a carver and later became known for his creation of prints in Kinngait between 1959 and 1977, as well as from 1984 to 1988 .
Kingwatsiak was one of the first Inuit artists, alongside Lukta Qiatsuq, Eegyvudluk Pootoogook and Kananginak Pootoogook, to engage in formal printmaking practices with artist and Canadian government official, James Houston in Kinngait during the late 1950s . He was also part of a group of four other Inuit artists including Kananginak Pootoogook, Joanasie Salamonie, Lukta Qiatsuq and Kiakshuk, who together signed the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative’s first incorporation documents and initially contributed to its development as a renowned organization for the creation of Inuit art . Kingwatsiak’s artworks were exhibited in the Cape Dorset Print Collections between 1959 and 1993. He created 155 prints using a variety of methods, including etching, engraving, stencil and stonecut . He is noted for creating artworks that featured Inuit figures within northern environments and Arctic animals, such as birds, whales, walruses and bears. He was also known for his technical artistic experimentation with various media. Kingwatsiak was part of early experiments with copperplate engraving in Kinngait in 1962, and also attended workshops to learn about tools for carving hard stone .
Kingwatsiak’s artwork is in many public collections across North America, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. His artwork has been exhibited within galleries across Canada as well as internationally. He was also active in his northern community, including being President of the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative from 1971 to 1973, as well as serving on numerous community boards and committees .
1992: Participated as a speaker on Cape Dorset Printmaking at the Inuit Art Conference held at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in January.
1987: Norgraphics Limited, Kingwatsiak was one of several artists whose work was acquired and released by Norgraphics Limited between 1982 and 1986. The works that were selected are documented in the Cape Dorset Print Collection annual catalogue (1987).
1971: Elected President of West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative, Re-elected in 1972 and 1973.
1969: Print “Geese Leaving” (1964-1965 #38) was presented as a gift to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
1961: Involved with the first experiments in copperplate engraving in Cape Dorset.
1959: Government of Canada Commission. Kingwatsiak’s print, “Canada Geese Taking Off” was presented to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.