September 24, 2016—The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia mourns the passing of contemporary Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook. Pootoogook was the first woman and first Indigenous artist to win the preeminent Sobey Art Award in 2006.
Annie Pootoogook began drawing in 1997 under the encouragement of the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative in Cape Dorset. She quickly developed a preference for drawing scenes from her own life. She is the daughter of Napatchie and Eegyvudluk Pootoogook, and the granddaughter of renowned artist Pitseolak Ashoona. Pootoogook was influenced by her mother’s graphics and the detailed drawings and prints of her uncle, Kananginak Pootoogook.
The artist’s work challenged conventional expectations of “Inuit” art. “Annie Pootoogook was a remarkable artist and a true pioneer—her works contributed immensely in the transition of traditional Inuit work into the contemporary realm,” said Sarah Fillmore, Chief Curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Her subjects were not Arctic animals or scenes of nomadic existence from a time before settlement life; she was instead a chronicler of her times. Pootoogook filled her drawings with the banal accoutrements of daily life—clocks, calendars, graduation photos, inspirational quotes, and Inuktitut messages taped to the fridge in modern Inuit homes—and images of everyday routine. Her work also dealt with everyday struggles of addiction, poverty, and boredom in the Canadian North.
Several of Pootoogook’s works are in the Gallery Permanent Collection and have been featured in recent exhibitions, including Contemporaries (2008), Northern Exposure (2014), and currently on view in Halifax in Shifting Ground, an exhibition charting the changing currents in contemporary Aboriginal art across Canada as seen through the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s collection.
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia recognizes Annie Pootoogook’s tremendous impact, and will remember her warm and memorable spirit through its collaborations with her over the years. We extend our condolences to her family.
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About the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is Atlantic Canada’s largest arts museum. With locations in downtown Halifax and downtown Yarmouth, it houses the province’s art collection and offers a range of innovative exhibitions and programming.