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First Name:

Last Name: Parr

Community: Kingnait

Sex: M

Disc Number: E71022

Date born: 00/00/1893


Parr was born in 1893 in a remote part of the south coast of Qikiqtaaluk Nunavut (Baffin Island) at a campsite near Kinngait (Cape Dorset). He lived a traditional nomadic hunting life with his wife Eleeshuse. Parr would settle permanently in Kinngait in 1961 due to ill health.1 The artist had nine children many of whom became artists.2

Terry Ryan, the same year, encouraged Parr to try drawing. Parr was 68 years old at the time.3 Observers disagree as to the first medium Parr worked in. One source commented that his first works used graphite on paper.4 Another noted that he worked in pencil with a sketch pad.5

By the time of his death on November 3rd, 1969 Parr had created over 2000 drawings and contributed 34 prints to the Cape Dorset print collections (it should be noted that one writer placed the number of prints at over 200).6,7

His drawings are regarded as a record for future generations of the traditional hunting and nomadic lifestyle of the Inuit.8

Parr felt most comfortable creating prints using stonecut and stencilling. He also liked working with felt-tipped pens, coloured pencils, and pastels. Engraving, however, was not a process that he enjoyed.9

The drawn lines Parr used in his images were "strong" with humans and animals shown with minimal detail with only their "essential features" drawn.10His style has drawn comparisons to "prehistoric Dorset art or pictographs."11

Unlike other Inuit artists of his community Parr rarely drew his images from legends or from shamanic lore. Parr, instead, favoured depictions of the hunt, based on his early life, which included both hunters and animals.12 Christine Lalonde observed that Parr's early work was "remarkable for their lack of hesitation and directness of thought and expression."13 Ingo Hessel, on the other hand, described Parr's first artistic attempts as "hesitant."14

Hessel would describe Parr's work as "primitive" and "na´ve" in style without a southerner's sense of perspective.15 Parr's figures and animals lay flat against a white background and without a discernable horizon line. He did not provide a contrast between the foreground and background in his drawings. Hessel believed that the strength of Parr's work was in its "subtlety rather than bravado."16 Lalonde observed that Parr's early work was "remarkable for their lack of hesitation and directness of thought and expression."17

Artist Werner Zimmerman reviewed an exhibition of Parr's work at The Art Gallery, Mount Saint Vincent University in 1989. He described Parr's work as having an "inner music" created by the rhythm of the hunt and the northern landscape's natural patterns. Zimmerman viewed Parr's work as an "impressionistic record" that had "spontaneity and immediacy."18

Zimmerman's observation that Parr, through his simple figures actually created complex work, was echoed by Hessel.19 In Hessel's review of Parr's work in a 1988 exhibition at the Galerie aux multiples collections he divided Parr's work into four periods.

During the first period, around 1961, Hessel argued, Parr focused on "narrative displays." In these displays the artist reminisced about his life as a hunter. His work "display[ed]" figures and animals more than he showed them "doing" something. Sea mammals, caribou, geese, bears and dogs were part of his image repertoire. Unlike other Inuit artists Parr did not depict fish.20

Hessel wrote that figures in Parr's work were "uniform and balanced" on the paper. He noted that they were situated without a physical context in the composition. Additionally he compared Parr's faces to early Dorset culture masks due to their lack of detail and their simplicity. Parr's animals were also reduced to their essentials.21

In the second period of Parr's work, roughly 1961-1963, is one that Hessel described as one of "systematized presentation." He speculated that the size of the animals and their number were symbolic of the importance Parr placed on them as a hunter. The compositions of this period were "balanced" and harmonious.22

In what Hessel called Parr's "colourful compositions" period (1963-1965) the author noted that Parr used coloured pencil and wax crayon. The images in these drawings were more narrative and the figures were active. The "energy" of the drawings was based more on the composition than the line of the drawing. Hessel noted that Parr obviously enjoyed working with colour.23

The final period or Parr's "narrative interaction" period dated from 1967 onward. Hessel characterized Parr's work at this time as having more "tension and dynamism" due to the way the figures and animals had been drawn and placed.24

Hessel noted that while Parr's work was "unappreciated during his lifetime" his work had been the subject of many major exhibitions after his death.25 A Canadian postage stamp was created using his print, Hunters of Old in 1977.26

1 www.ccca.ca
2 Ingo Hessel, IAQ, V.3, No. 4, Fall, 14-20, 1988
3 www.canadianencyclopedia.com
4 www.ccca.ca
5 Christine Lalonde, IAQ, V.13, No.1, Spring, pp.38-39, 1998
6 www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com
7 IAQ, V.13, No.1, Spring, 1998
8 www.ccca.ca
9 www.ccca.ca
10 IAQ, V.13, No.1, Spring, 1998
11 IAQ, V.13, No.1, Spring, 1998
12 www.ccca.ca
13 IAQ, V.13, No.1, Spring, 1998
14 IAQ, V.3, No. 4, Fall 1988
15 www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com
16 IAQ, V.3, No.4, Fall, 1988
17 IAQ, V.13, No.1, Spring, 1998
18 IAQ, V.4, No.1, Winter, 1989
19 IAQ, V.3, No.4, Fall, 1988
20 IAQ, V.3, No.4, Fall, 1988
21 IAQ, V.3, No.4, Fall, 1988
22 IAQ, V.3, No.4, Fall, 1988
23 IAQ, V.3, No.4, Fall, 1988
24 IAQ, V.3, No.4, Fall, 1988
25 www.canadianencyclopedia.com
26 www.canadianencyclopedia.com

Alternative Names:
• Parr Parr

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The Dorset Group of Four - Drawings and Prints by Kenojuak, Lucy, Parr and PitseolakCanadiana Galleries
From Drawing to Print: Perceptions and Process in Cape Dorset ArtGlenbow Museum
Cape Dorset Through the Years: 25 Years of Graphics and SculptureArctic Artistry
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Graphic Art by Eskimos of Canada: First CollectionCultural Affairs Division, Department of External Affairs, Canada
Canadian Eskimo Arts FestivalAlaska Methodist University Galleries
The Woodget Collection of Eskimo Art and ArtifactsNova Scotia Museum of Fine Art
The Art of the EskimoSimon Fraser Gallery, Simon Fraser University
Eskimo Carvings and Prints from the Collection of York UniversityArt Gallery of York University
Ulu/Inua: Form and Fantasy in Eskimo ArtCasino Gallery, Ravinia Park
Retrospective Print Show and Release of "Arts of the Eskimo: Prints"The Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art
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Hunters of OldInukshuk Galleries Inc.
We Lived by Animals/Nous Vivions des AnimauxDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in cooperation with the Department of External Affairs
The Inuit Print/L'estampe inuitDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the National Museum of Man
The Zazelenchuk Collection of Eskimo ArtWinnipeg Art Gallery
Cape Dorset EngravingsDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Canadian Eskimo Art: a representative exhibition from the collection of Professor and Mrs. Philip GrayFine Arts Gallery, Montana State University
Eskimo NarrativeWinnipeg Art Gallery
21 X 12 (Eskimo Drawing Exhibition)Inuk 1 Gallery
Images of the Inuit: from the Simon Fraser CollectionSimon Fraser Gallery, Simon Fraser University
The Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art from the Art Gallery of OntarioUniversity of Guelph
Inuit Graphics from the Collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsMusee des beaux-arts de Montreal
Cape Dorset EngravingsDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, circulated by the Art Gallery of Ontario
Return to OriginsThe Arctic Circle
TransformationThe Arctic Circle
The Jacqui and Morris Shumiatcher Collection of Inuit ArtNorman Mackenzie Art Gallery, University of Regina
Noel au Chateau - Art inuit de la collection Macdonald Stewart Art CentreMacdonald Stewart Art Centre Guelph, Ontario presented at Chateau Dufresne
Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit ArtArt Gallery of Ontario
Inuit Masterworks: Selections from the Collection of Indian and Northern Affairs CanadaMcMichael Canadian Collection
A Retrospective ViewThe Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art
Cape Dorset Prints: Twenty-Five YearsNational Gallery of Canada
Basically BirdsSnow Goose Associates
Stones, Bones, Cloth, and Paper: Inuit Art in Edmonton CollectionsEdmonton Art Gallery
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New Beginnings: a celebration of Native expression at the first Native Business SummitMetro Toronto Convention Centre
Inuit Graphics Through the Year: Rare Prints from the ArcticArctic Artistry
Inuit Graphics from the PastArctic Artistry
The Swinton Collection of Inuit ArtWinnipeg Art Gallery
Images of the Far NorthStudio Art Gallery, State University of New York
Inuit Traditions in Graphics: 1961-1987Arctic Artistry
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Drawings by ParrThe Art Shop, Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal
Drawings by Parr of Cape DorsetThe Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art
Parr: A Print RetrospectiveGallery One
Parr: Original DrawingsInuit Gallery of Vancouver
Parr (1893-1969)Aux Multiples Collections
Parr: His DrawingsMount Saint Vincent University
Eskimo Games: Graphics and Sculpture/ Giuochi Eschimesi: grafiche e scultureNational Gallery of Modern Art
The Hunting Existence: Men and Animals Depicted in Sculpture and PrintsArctic Artistry
4th National Burnaby Print ShowBurnaby Art Society
Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit ArtWinnipeg Art Gallery
Im Schatten der Sonne: Zeitgenossische Kunst der Indianer und Eskimos in Kanada/In the Shadow of the Sun: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art in CanadaCanadian Museum of Civilization
Spoken in Stone: an exhibition of Inuit ArtWhyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
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A New Day Dawning: Early Cape Dorset PrintsUniversity of Michigan
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