Big Woman, 1974
coloured pencil, ink on paper
56.3 x 76.1 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired through a grant from The McLean Foundation
Jessie Oonark, one of the best-known artists of the Canadian Arctic, has had many honours bestowed upon her, including the Order of Canada. Her drawings, prints, and wall hangings have been featured in many group and solo exhibitions, including a touring retrospective exhibition organized by the WAG in 1986. She began drawing shortly after moving to Baker Lake in 1955, and her experience as a talented seamstress is apparent in her approach to design. She compresses many visual ideas into strong single images, and in this print the Inuit amautik, or mother’s parka, assumes the force of a feminine symbol. Traditional facial tattoos and the crescent-shaped woman’s knife, or ulu, projecting from each side of the woman’s head are also cultural attributes associated with Inuit women.