Lot 219
KENOJUAK ASHEVAK (1927-), E7-1035, Cape Dorset

RABBIT EATING SEAWEED, skin stencil, 1959, 17/30,
9.02" x 24.02"
22.90 x 61.00
Cape Dorset

Est. $20000/25000
Realised: Please contact us for the value of this item
Auction Date: 05/02/2011

Note: “Kinoajuak(sic) is probably the cleverest woman in Cape Dorset in making skin applique designs.” (Eskimo Graphic Art, 1959 Cape Dorset Print catalogue, Department of Northern Affairs). Like most Inuit women at the time, Kenojuak's sewing skills developed out of necessity and was learned from her elders, sewing clothing for herself, her family and eventually for trade. The image used for Kenojuak's first print created in 1958 was actually conceived years earlier as part of a design on Kenojuak's handbag. This bold and very graphic motif of a rabbit eating seaweed had been admired by James Houston during the conceptual days of printmaking and although he was initially impressed by it, it was not immediately clear in what way it could be utilized. The marketability of her talent did not become evident until she returned from a Quebec City Hospital for treatment of tuberculosis. After a strong contribution to Alma Houston's crafts program, in which Kenojuak made kamiks, beadwork, dolls, tapestries and sealskin bags much like the one James Houston had noticed years earlier, she was given paper and encouraged to draw. The concept of using sealskin designs was instrumental in the development of stencil prints as their graphic nature was so translatable from skin to paper. These designs would later be one of several sources of inspiration for the early Cape Dorset printmakers. Although prints were produced and sold as early as 1957, the first annual documented catalogue of prints was released in 1959. “Rabbit Eating Seaweed” is Kenojuak's first print and marks the beginning of her career as one of the most celebrated Canadian graphic artists.

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