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Pitseolak Niviaqsi

Pitseolak Niviaqsi, RCA was a carver and printmaker from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. Niviaqsi was renowned for his talents as a lithographer, transferring hundreds of drawings into prints at the Kinngait Studios and was credited in nearly every Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection from 1975 to 2011 [1].

Niviaqsi began his artistic career as a carver selling his sculptures out of the Kinngait Studios. He continued carving after he became an apprentice at the studios though he carved less frequently after 1991 [2]. Niviaqsi’s sculptures were sinuous and made effective use of negative space. Birds, caribou, Sedna and mothers with children were frequent subjects for Niviaqsi. Dancing Sednas (n.d.) illustrates Niviaqsi’s flowing sense of balance and symmetry, capturing the motion of the two figures dancing underwater together.
Niviaqsi was a talented lithographer who was praised for his technical skill [3], becoming one of the first printmakers to learn lithography techniques through the Kinngait Studios. Niviaqsi was dutiful when reproducing prints to remain as loyal to the original drawings as possible. Niviaqsi was responsible for reproducing a number of iconic prints for the Studios including Napachie Pootoogook’s My New Accordion (1989).

Niviaqsi frequently mentored other artists in lithography techniques. In 1977 he traveled to Ulukhaktok to assist with establishing the lithography program [4]. In 2000 he taught a workshop for Nunavik artists visiting the Kinngait Studios [5]. Niviaqsi occasionally turned his own drawings into prints. His most well known works portray wildlife such as the dynamic Rutting Caribou (2016) and the luminous Sheltered Calf (2016). He enjoyed depicting family relationships in his art including the touching print All Aboard (2016) of a polar bear mother with her cubs and the carving Fisherman With Twins (2001), which appeared on the cover of the Spring 2002 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.

Niviaqsi’s works are held in the permanent collections of multiple prominent institutions including the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg, MB, the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, ON. In recognition of his work Niviaqsi was invested as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.



Citations/Footnotes

1. Jean Blodgett, In Cape Dorset We Do It This Way: Three Decades of Inuit Printmaking (Kleinburg, ON: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1991), 93.
2. Ibid, 137.
3. William Ritchie, “Pitseolak Niviaqsi: 1947-2015,” Inuit Art Quarterly 29, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 49.
4. Blodgett, In Cape Dorset, 137.
5. Inuit Art Foundation, “Revisiting Nunavik Printmaking,” Inuit Art Foundation 16 no. 1(Spring 2001): 5.