Arctic artists


Annie Pootoogook and Shuvinai Ashoona hold their family and community traditions in reverence, said Denise Markonish, curator at Mass MoCA.

Both artists talk about how lucky they are to be artists, and to be artists like those in their family. They are Inuit cousins born and raised in Nunavut.

Pootoogook has drawn a childhood memory of her mother drawing, and Shu vinai has imagined a scene from her infancy, of her mother emerging from a tent, carrying her infant daughter in a cradle board on her back.

But their work is their own, Markonish said.

"The more you see it," she said, "the more it changes what you think."

Pootoogook has done a series of drawing s of evil spirits, incorporating Inuk titut, symbols from the Inuit alphabet, and Ashoona some times illuminates her drawings with fantastical elements. They fluctuate between reality and dream, Markonish said.

Ashoona often draws from an aerial perspective -- living in flat tundra. Cape Dorset may have one building taller than one story, Markonish said; Ashoona has few physical ways to look down on the world from a high place. But she told Markonish, "everything is from above."


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