Small Graphics from the Collection of W.A. Ross McFadden
March 12 — 17, 2022
Auction begins to close at 2:00 pm ET
PITSEOLAK ASHOONA, O.C., R.C.A. (1904-1983)
Estate of W.A. Ross MacFadden, Toronto, ON
Pitseolak Ashoona's art career began with sewing and embroidering in an arts and crafts program initiated by the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources. For two years she made primarily sewn works until the Kinngait (Cape Dorset) graphics studio was established in 1959. Inspired by works made by her cousin Kiakshuk, Pitseolak began drawing, and quickly became recognized for her work in graphite, and later print media.  An early practitioner of engraving following its introduction by Terry Ryan (1922-2017) to Kinngait in 1961, Pitseolak’s drawing style of shading through rapid line movements seems to have found perfect expression in the medium of engraving with its capacity to express wiry thin lines. 
A highly acclaimed artist even in her own lifetime, Pitseolak Ashoona was also the mother of important artists Kiawak, Kaka, Koomwartok, Ottochie, and Napatchie Pootoogook.
Birds of Summer from 1964 depicts a flock of birds, one with a strangely kamik-like foot (skin boot) perhaps in transformation. The image is rendered in Pitseolak’s distinctive rhythmic parallel lines.
In an interview recorded by Dorth Eber in 1970, and documented in her book Pitseolak: Pictures out of my life Pitseolak explained: “My name is Pitseolak, the Eskimo word for the sea pigeon. When I see pitseolaks over the sea, I say, “There go those lovely birds–that’s me flying!” 
Of the relatively small number of early engravings produced by Pitseolak, we are very pleased to offer nine in this auction (see lots 14 through 22).
Eber, Dorothy, Pitseolak: Pictures out of my life, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1977.
West-Baffin Eskimo Co-Operative, Eskimo Graphic Art 1964-65 L’Art Graphique Des Esquimaux, Cape Dorset, N.W.T., 1971. pl. 12.
1. Lalonde, Christone, “Pitseolak Ashoona, Life and Work”, Art Canada Institute. Accessed February 21, 2022. Click here to read more.
2. Eber, Dorothy Harley, Pitseolak Ashoona in Pictures Out of My Life, Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003, p. 102.
3. Ibid, p.13.