Sheojuke Toonoo


Qikiqtani Inuit Association

Sheojuke Tonoo was born in Kimmirut in 1927 to parents Mary Qayuaryuk (1908-1982) and Pitseolak Laimiki Paariatuq. She and her husband Toonoo (1920-1969) lived in a camp at Kangia where they raised several of their children. Sheojuke, an accomplished sewer, made clothing and kamiks for her family and her husband was a skilled craftsperson and made many tools.

Toonoo began selling carvings in the early 1950s, and by the early-1960s the family had settled in Kinngait. Sheojuke began making carvings and drawings around this time. Her carvings from the 1960s are quite rare but often depict animals and transformation scenes. Sheojuke occasionally made drawings and in 1965 one was made into a stonecut, Small Owl. The print shows a wide-eyed owl, with wings outstretched in a playful stance. It its inclusion in the 1966 catalogue marks Sheojuke Toonoo’s only appearance in an annual print collection.

Sheojuke stopped producing art for the commercial market in the late 1960s though she continued to make clothing. Her favourite items to make were Kamiks. In 2000 she enrolled in the Nunavut Arctic College Printmaking and Drawing Program. In the years that followed she produced a small, but incredibly significant body of work that included woodcuts, etchings and stencils. The etching Naimajuk, 2002 shows two carefully rendered polar bears in a landscape lushly decorated with plants, shells and clams. The etching is rendered with rich texture and shows the artists incredible skill in the medium.

Sheojuke Toonoo was an influential artist in her community. Three of her children, Oviloo Tunnillie, Jutai Toonoo and Samonie Toonoo, went on to be some of the most individual and vital artists of their generation. Toonoo’s work has been exhibited across Canada and the United states and is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the permanent collection of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative.

About Sheojuke Toonoo

Medium:

Beading, Drawing, Fabric, Printmaking, Sculpture/Carving

Artistic Community:

Kinngait (Cape Dorset), 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.

1928

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.

2010