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Woman Sings of Animals

Mayoreak Ashoona

1994, lithograph

Gift of the Sharon K. Patten ’66 Estate

Woman Sings of Animals is a beautiful representation of traditional Inuit lithography and represents the importance of animals in Inuit mythology. A female figure is depicted at the center of the piece while two ravens protectively sit on her shoulders. The raven is a creation figure in Inuit mythology, a trickster whose form goes back and forth between human and animal. Ashoona’s piece highlights the importance of such stories and myths in Inuit culture through her representation of ravens upon a woman’s shoulders. Animals play a critical role to Inuit culture living within the Canadian arctic tundra which is reflected by their appearance in such myths and stories. While these stories are told within an oral tradition, the traditional practice of lithography combined with Western artistic methods allowed for the longstanding graphic tradition of Inuit storytelling to be represented visually and distributed widely. In the 1970s there was a rise in interest to preserve Inuktitut, a principal Inuit language, which resulted in a migration of Inuit peoples to Cape Dorset. Kinngait, or Cape Dorset, quickly became the capital of Inuit art for drawing, printmaking, and carving. Mayoreak Ashoona is one of the original artists that migrated to Kinngait and has maintained the rich cultural tradition of Inuit graphic arts.

Sarah Swan-Kloos ‘21