Artist of the moment….Jessie Oonark

Jessie Oonark was an Inuit artist known not only for her printmaking skills, but also for her woven tapestry skills. Jessie Oonark was born in the Baker Lake, Nunavet Territory, in Canada.

Oonark didn’t become involved with art until she was in her fifties. Before that she enjoyed the role of the traditional Inuit woman. Making clothes from sealskin and caribou. In 1959 a biologist working in the area gave her some supplies and a creative genius was born.

When she first began her printmaking career the only printing press the Inuits had was in Cape Dorset. Jessie Oonark was the only artist outside of Cape Dorset to work with the Cape Dorset printing press. The one and only artist!

She was a janitor at a church before a sponsor bought her a small studio and she was able to produce art full time and issue many print series.

Price range information: The artist worked with prints and drawings ranging between $1,500 and $5,000. Embroidery works range $10,000 to $35,000.

In this clip we see an installation of one her very large tapestry works.

From our beloved friends at Waddington’s Auction house of Canada we see one of Jessie Oonark’s fabric works up for auction. It well exceeded the estimated price. Her works in fabric are sought after by collectors.

Jessie Oonark had 8 children that went on to become artists. They will follow in up coming posts!


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