Spirit Woman Item Number: Na838 from the MOA: University of British Columbia


Print depicting a spirit woman with a round face surrounded by a lobed border, elongated appendages protruding from either side of the head, each with a ring at the end. The body is roughly ovoid shaped with two white tusk shapes that each have several black bands. Three short black fin-like appendages, and two long curved black and grey appendages on either side of the body. The name of the artist is written in Inuit syllabics above the name of the printmaker, also in Inuit syllabics, which is printed along with the Cape Dorset stylized red igloo seal in the upper right-hand corner of the image. The Canadian Arts Council blind embossed stamp is in the upper right-hand corner. Below the image is written, "Spirit Woman Stonecut 33/50 Dorset 1975 Eegyvudluk."

History Of Use

Contemporary Inuit prints were first produced at Cape Dorset in 1957. Although precursors to printmaking can be seen in women's skin applique work and in men's incising of ivory, stone and bone, the impetus for printmaking was as a commercial venture. This venture was established jointly by Inuit artists and John Houston, the civil administrator for Cape Dorset. Other Inuit communities quickly followed the commercial success of Cape Dorset's West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative. Printmaking developed as a communal activity following a Japanese, rather than a Western, model of serigraph production. Each year the cooperatives produce a series of limited edition prints which are sold in the retail art market. In 1965, the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council was established from the Canadian Eskimo Art Committee to ensure high standards were maintained. Printmaking, along with stone carving, provide cash income for communities which have undergone rapid and significant change, during the late 20th century, from traditional hunting based societies to settled communities dependent on consumer goods. The prevalent images depicted in Inuit art are of traditional life, arctic animals and mythology. Recently, contemporary subjects have been depicted by a minority of artists.

Cultural Context

contemporary art