The Graphic Art of Sheojuk Etidlooie
Sheojuk Etidlooie’s short but remarkable career began in 1993 when, despite not having tried her hand art drawing before, Sheojuk was awarded first prize at an Anglican Church Christmas event in Kinngait for her drawing of a qulliq. Her bold and colourful interpretations attracted the attention of Jimmy Manning, then the West Baffin Cooperative manager, who encouraged Sheojuk to continue her art. In 1994, her designs were made into lithographs for inclusion in the Cape Dorset annual print collection. She was soon a major figure in Kinngait's art community. In 1998, her drawings accounted for almost half the annual print collection.
Although she was born in 1932 to a hunting family near Kinngait, she moved away with her first husband in the 1950s and continued to live a traditional lifestyle. Simultaneously, the fledgling printmaking studio began to take shape in Cape Dorset under James Houston. As such, Sheojuk missed the first flourish of graphic art in Kinngait. She returned to Dorset in the early 1980s and, having absorbed the lessons offered by her artistic predecessors, a decade later, Sheojuk tore up the rules of representation, her style sharply departing from that of other Cape Dorset elders like Kananginak Pootoogook and Kenojuak Ashevak. Despite having one of the shortest active careers, Sheojuk produced a body of work that is as outstanding and idiosyncratic as those of her more established counterparts from Kinngait.
Sheojuk Etidlooie as Remembered by Pat Feheley
I first encountered the unique imagery found in Sheojuk’s works from the translations of her images into prints. Then, during a trip to Cape Dorset in the late 1990s, I had the opportunity to see her original drawings, which to me were even more immediate and enchanting. I was able to complete an extensive interview with Sheojuk preparatory to organizing the first Feheley Fine Arts solo exhibition of her original drawings in 1998. The gallery invited Sheojuk to travel to Toronto, where she was welcomed by collectors from across Canada and the United States. There are wonderful memories from that trip, including her first in-person viewing of the Santa Claus parade, which she found very funny.
Soon after this we began work on her second exhibition. I travelled to Cape Dorset to take part in the festivities for the creation of the Territory of Nunavut on April 1, 1999. During this trip I also completed extensive interviews with Sheojuk with works selected for her second drawing exhibition at Feheley Fine Arts. We fit this in around her schedule of demonstrating traditional life for local schoolchildren. Sadly she passed away suddenly of pneumonia just months before her second solo drawing exhibition. This exhibition, held in the fall of 1999, became a commemorative show in which the very few oil pastels completed by the artist were presented.
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Graphic works are unframed unless otherwise indicated.