Untitled (Spirit Barges)

Jessie Oonark, Inuit / Canadian, 1906 - 1985
Canadian Inuit
Central Arctic


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about 1975

Colored pencil on paper

Image: 21 1/2 × 29 1/2 in. (54.6 × 74.9 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Jane and Raphael Bernstein



Place Made: Qamanittuaq (Baker Lake), Canada, North America


20th century

Object Name


Research Area

Native American

Native American: Arctic-Central and Eastern


Not on view


Signed, in graphite, lower center: artist's name [Inuktitut syllabics]; inscribed, in graphite, on reverse, lower left: 6312 e; lower right: mmj (?) 520; 4-8; Oonark 500 PL LR.M.M (?);


In this drawing, the striped figures likely depict a spiritual or shamanic transformation. The curved, triangular-shaped portions of the tails on these figures are reminiscent of the ulu, a woman’s knife used for skinning and preparing animal hides, butchering, chopping, eating, and sewing. This motif is common within Oonark’s drawings and pays homage to the importance of women and their labor within Inuit communities.

From the 2021 exhibition A Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein Collection, curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art; Katherine W. Hart, Senior Curator of Collections and Barbara C. & Harvey P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming; John R. Stomberg Ph.D, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director; Jessica Hong, Associate Curator of Global Contemporary Art; and Melissa McCormick, Professor of Japanese Art and Culture at Harvard University

Exhibition History

Inuit Art

Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein Collection, Class of 1967 Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 4, 2021–February 6, 2022.

Tradition and Transformation: Twentieth Century Inuit Art from the Collection of the Hood Museum of Art, Gene Y. Kin Class of 1985 Gallery, Teaching Exhibition, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 22, 2014-December 6, 2015.

Publication History

John R. Stomberg, A Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein collection; Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, Hood Museum of Art, 2021, listed p.100.


Canadian Guild of Crafts, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; sold to Jane and Raphael Bernstein, Ridgewood, New Jersey, August 29, 1975; lent to present collection, 2011; given to present collection, 2013.

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