Inscribed, lower right to left: The Great Hunter Oonark, Ukpatiku 15/22; stamped, in yellow ink: Baker Lake chop; signed, in Inuktitut syllabics
The Great Hunter references the importance of caribou—used for food, shelter, tools, and clothing—within Inuit communities. Using a mixed perspective, Oonark creates balance on the page rather than depicting a naturalistic point of view. Through her placement of the figures and her use of blue for both the caribou and the hunter, Oonark communicates the physical and spiritual relationship between caribou and her people.
Jessie Oonark grew up in camps near the Haningayok (Back River) region of Nunavut, where she and her family lived off the land. She spent much of her time processing and sewing caribou and seal skin to produce clothing. Oonark did not begin drawing until the late 1950s when she and her children moved to Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake) due to the decline of the caribou population. Once in Qamani’tuaq, she applied her skills to fabric and paper, producing many tapestries, drawings, and prints. Memories of her earlier experiences influenced her depiction of Inuit life as well as her distinctive style using bold, flat areas of color, an aesthetic evocative of traditional Inuit sewing and appliqué techniques.
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
NAS 30.21, Native American Art and Material, Jami Powell, Spring 2020
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.
John R. Stomberg, A Legacy for Learning: The Jane and Raphael Bernstein collection; Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, Hood Museum of Art, 2021, Plate 33, p.58, listed p.100.
Sanavik Cooperative, Baker Lake, 1975 Prints, Baker Lake, Northwest Territories: Sanavik Cooperative, 1975, catalogue no. 7
Canadiana Gifts Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta; sold to Jane and Raphael Bernstein, Ridgewood, New Jersey, September 10, 1975; lent to present collection, 2011; given to present collection, 2013.
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