In memoriam: Jean Blodgett

Distinguished scholar and friend of the Inuit art community
April 12, 2021
It is with sadness we learn of the passing of Jean Blodgett, a distinguished art scholar and friend of the Inuit art community. Internationally recognized as an expert in Inuit art, Jean's landmark texts shaped and defined Inuit art history for generations to come. She was generous with her time and in sharing her passion for Inuit art. 
It was seeing Jean's Grasp Tight the Old Ways exhibition at the AGO (and reading the catalogue) in the summer of 1983 that prompted me to immediately contact the Art History Department at Carleton University back in Ottawa so that I could learn more about Inuit art. At the time they had no one teaching an Inuit art course, but they suggested that I do a practicum stint with the Inuit Art Section at the Department of Indian & Northern Affairs, which I did in the fall of that year. Within a year I had quit my job at Statistics Canada and embarked on a 15-year career at the Inuit Art Section; it will soon be forty years for me working in the field, thanks to Jean opening my eyes to the wonders of Inuit art!
To my great surprise and delight, Jean moved to Ottawa 1984 and began teaching Inuit art courses at Carleton; I took two Inuit art courses with her (including a directed research project on Arviat sculpture in which she kindly convinced the Winnipeg Art Gallery to open their vaults to me). More importantly, however, for years she guided and mentored me in my research, writing, and early curatorial efforts, which continued after her appointment to the McMichael. I will forever be grateful to Jean for her kind and generous friendship, her inspiration to me as a researcher and curator, and her sage advice.
—Ingo Hessel

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