Annie Pootoogook

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Annie Pootoogook
Born (1969-05-11)May 11, 1969
Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Canada
Died September 19, 2016(2016-09-19) (aged 47)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Inuit, Canadian
Awards Sobey Art Award

Annie Pootoogook (May 11, 1969 – September 19, 2016) was a contemporary Canadian Inuit artist known for ink and crayon drawings of her life and community.[1]


Pootoogook was born on May 11, 1969, in Cape Dorset to a family of artists. Her mother, Napachie Pootoogook, was a graphic artist and her father, Eegyvudluk Pootoogook, was a printmaker and carver. She is the granddaughter of renowned artist Pitseolak Ashoona, the niece of printmaker Kananginak Pootoogook and the cousin of draughtsman Shuvinai Ashoona.[2]

Pootoogook moved to Ottawa from Cape Dorset in 2007,[2] where she lived with her partner William Watt.[3][4]


Pootoogook began drawing in 1997 with crayons and ink on paper. Her works portray contemporary Inuit life, juxtaposing intimate family scenes and home interiors with scenes of alcoholism and violence. Her influences include her mother, Napachie Pootoogook (died 2002), and her grandmother, Pitseolak Ashoona (died 1983), both of whom were accomplished artists.[1]

Her titles are deadpan, e.g. "Sadness and Relief for My Brother", "Memory of My Life: Breaking Bottles", or "Man Abusing His Partner". Inuit traditions appear in her work, such as her portrayal of women tanning animals hides or families in fishing camps.[1] The passage of time figures heavily in her work, represented by a clock with hands set in different positions in different drawings.[1]

"In the last 10 years of her life she did an absolutely extraordinary series of drawings where she talked about the darker side of traditional life and, in fact, did speak about things like spousal abuse," said Pat Feheley, owner of Feheley Fine Arts, a gallery in Toronto that represents Pootoogook.[5]

Art career[edit]

Pootoogook began her art career drawing in pen and coloured pencils at the age of 28 for the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative (now known as the Kinngait Studios) in Cape Dorset.[5] She has brought a new artistic viewpoint to contemporary Inuit art, in contrast to the more traditional treatments. Her work depicts contemporary experiences of a woman and an artist living in the Canadian North.[citation needed]

Her breakthrough came in 2006, when in November, she won the $50,000 Sobey Art Award, which is given to an artist 39 years old or younger who has shown their work in a public or commercial art gallery in Canada in the past 18 months. "Annie Pootoogook's work reflects both the current moment of a specific tradition and of a contemporary drawing practice," the curators and jury for the award said in a press release.[6] She also had a major solo exhibition, her first, in 2006 at The Power Plant in Toronto.[3] The exhibit, curated by Nancy Campbell, focused on mythology, community and the difficulties of life in the Arctic.

She exhibited at the 2007 Biennale de Montréal and in the same year she had works at both the Basel Art Fair and Documenta 12. Pootoogook was the first Inuit artist to participate in Documenta, held in Kassel, Germany.[5] In 2009 through 2010, the National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heyes Center in New York gave her a solo exhibit.[1] Most recently her work was part of the first major exhibition of Canadian contemporary art outside of Canada entitled Oh, Canada. Curated by Denise Markonish, the exhibit took place in 2012 at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and showcased 62 Canadian artists including the work of Pootoogook's cousin Shuvinai Ashoona[7][8] Pootoogook was the only professional artist from the Ottawa region represented in the exhibition.


Pootoogook was found dead in the Rideau River in Ottawa on September 19, 2016.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Cotter, Holland. "Postcards From Canada's ‘New North.'" New York Times. 23 July 2009 (retrieved 25 July 2009)
  2. ^ a b Bingham, Russell (17 December 2013). "Annie Pootoogook". The Canadian Encyclopedia. 
  3. ^ a b Adams, James (August 15, 2012). "A revolutionary Inuit artist's life imitates her art, darkly". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  4. ^ Adami, Hugh (July 17, 2014). "Adami: Alcohol, idleness still battle acclaimed Inuit artist". Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Cape Dorset artist gets prestigious invitation to German art show. CBC Arts. 2 Nov 2006 (retrieved 25 July 2009)
  6. ^ "Inuit artist Pootoogook wins $50,000 Sobey Art Award." CBC Arts. 7 Nov 2006 (retrieved 25 July 2009)
  7. ^ Balzer, David (2011). "Shuvinai Ashoona". The Believer (November/December). Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Tousley, Nancy. "Oh, Canada: National Dreams". Canadian Art. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook found dead in Ottawa

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