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First Name: Kiawak

Last Name: Ashoona

Community: Kingnait

Sex: M

Disc Number: E71103

Date born: 09/16/1933


When I carve it is hard for me to think what the carving is going to be. I will (then) start from the head. I try to put down a lot of details in the carvings that I do. Sometimes I carve from my imagination and sometimes I carve what I have seen in the past.1

Born at the Tariugajak camp on Baffin Island on September 16, 1933. Kiawak Ashoona comes from a family of artists. His mother was Pitseolak Ashoona RCA (1904-1983) a graphic artist whose talent is still held in high esteem and whose daughter, Napatchie Pootoogook (d. 2003), contributed regularly to the Cape Dorset print collection.2 Kiawak's brothers, Koomwartok (1930-1984) and Qaqaq (1928-1996) were noted sculptors.3 Kiawak and his wife, Sorosilutu, have six children, two of whom are adopted.4

Kiawak's father, Ashoona, was one of the founders of Cape Dorset as an Inuit settlement.5 In his own way Kiawak was also a founder as he was one of the first in his community to carve.6 After living in Cape Dorset for a long time Kiawak returned to a traditional Inuit lifestyle on the land.7

It is been observed that Kiawak is "a very private man" who appreciates "seclusion" in order to work in his "relaxed and unhurried" manner.8 He has commented that he likes to look at a stone, assess its capabilities, walk away from it, and then look at it again.9 This gives the artist a "real feeling for the work first" before he begins - without which he won't begin carving.10

Kiawak has commented that he can "carve many things because I think about them first."11 He has also remarked "what I enjoy most is to finish my work with fine detail."12

Kiawak is described as a "devout Christian" whose work depicts the themes of traditional Inuit mythology and legends since the 1960s due to their popularity with southern buyers, according to one source.13 It has been observed that his work is a "link to older cultural values and oral traditions" and that his themes focus on: shamans, "Inuit mythology," story telling, hunting and other "traditional activities," as well as mother and child pairings.14,15,16,17

Kiawak began sculpting before his mother started drawing, it has been noted that his first carving was made from a walrus tusk and was sold for supplies for his family.18,19 Kiawak's father had died when he was quite young and his family was forced to work hard to survive by trapping foxes and carving.20

Over his career, according to Norton and Reading (2005), Kiawak became a sculptor who is both "artistically and politically" important.21 He has also been described as an artist who may be "the finest figurative carver of his generation," as well as a role model for Inuit youth.22,23

Kiawak was known as a "reserved and quiet" man who took great pride in his mother's accomplishments while being circumspect about his own.24 His love of sculpting is undiminished despite beginning sculpting at age nine25:

I would never give up what I am doing, even for a good job because for centuries there have been Inuit sculptors, ...and it's very important to carry on.26

Kiawak's accomplishments include:
- Exhibiting his art work world wide since the 1950s in exhibitions and museums and has been featured in books and documentaries
- The late and former United States President Ronald Reagan and former Chancellor of West Germany, Helmut Schmidt, own examples of his work
- 1970-1 'Tournaaq and Young' cover image for "Sculpture/Inuit. Sculpture of the Inuit: Masterworks of the Canadian Arctic"
- 1980 image of the goddess Sedna the subject of a Canadian stamp
- 1997 National Aboriginal Achievement Award Recipient
- 2000 made of Officer of the Order of Canada
- 2000 Molson Prize in the Arts
- 2003 Royal Canadian Academy

1 Cape Dorset Sculptors and Their Sculptures, The Inuit Art Collection, 1981, Manchester, Connecticut: Sterling Printing Inc.
2 Cape Dorset Sculptors
4 Cape Dorset Sculptors
6 Cape Dorset Sculptors
7 Cape Dorset Sculptors
9 The Winnipeg Art Gallery,
10 The Winnipeg Art Gallery,
11 The Winnipeg Art Gallery,
12 The Winnipeg Art Gallery,
18 Cape Dorset Sculptors
21 Derek Norton, Nigel Reading, 2005, Corset Dorset Sculpture, Douglas & McIntyre

Alternative Names:
• Ashoona Ashoona
• Kiawak Ashoona
• Kiugak Ashoona
• Kiowak Ashoona
• Keeower Ashoona
• Kioga Ashoona
• Kiogak
• Keogak
• Keeower
• Kiugak
• Kiugok
• Kiawak Ashoona RCA

Opening ExhibitionNunavut Fine Arts Limited
Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit ArtWinnipeg Art Gallery
Night Spirits: Cape Dorset 1960-1965Winnipeg Art Gallery
Cape Dorset Prints: Twenty-Five YearsNational Gallery of Canada
Eskimo Carvings: Coronation ExhibitionGimpel Fils
Northern ExhibitStratford Festival
Four Artists from Cape DorsetLippel Gallery
Eskimo SculptureWinnipeg Art Gallery presented at the Manitoba Legislative Building
Cape Dorset - A Decade of Eskimo Prints & Recent SculptureNational Gallery of Canada, in cooperation with the Canadian Eskimo Art Committee
The Eskimo Art Collection of the Toronto-Dominion BankToronto-Dominion Bank
Carvings and Prints by the Family of PitseolakRobertson Galleries
Eskimo Sculpture '69Robertson Galleries
Arctic ArtLippel Gallery, presented at Place Bonaventure
Mythology in StoneCanadian Guild of Crafts Quebec
SculptureCanadian Eskimo Arts Council a competition/exhibition organized as a contribution to the Centennial of the N.W.T.
The Woodget Collection of Eskimo Art and ArtifactsNova Scotia Museum of Fine Art
Sculpture/Inuit: Masterworks of the Canadian ArcticCanadian Eskimo Arts Council
The Art of the EskimoSimon Fraser Gallery, Simon Fraser University
Eskimo Carvings and Prints from the Collection of York UniversityArt Gallery of York University
Cultures of the Sun and the Snow: Indian and Eskimo Art of the AmericasMusee des beaux-arts de Montreal held at "Man and His World"
Eskimo Sculpture (and Drawings)Waddington Galleries
Eskimo ArtQueens Museum
Cape Dorset - Selected Sculpture from the Collection of the Winnipeg Art GalleryWinnipeg Art Gallery
Selections from the Toronto-Dominion Collection of Eskimo ArtNational Arts Centre
The Contemporary Eskimo Prints and SculptureAmon Carter Museum of Western Art
The Inuit Print/L'estampe inuitDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the National Museum of Man
Looking SouthWinnipeg Art Gallery
Kiawak, Kumwartok, Kaka: The Sons of Pitseolak Ashoona - Cape DorsetThe Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art
Polar Vision: Canadian Eskimo GraphicsJerusalem Artists' House Museum
Sculpture of the Inuit: Lorne Balshine Collection/Lou Osipov Collection/ Dr. Harry Winrob CollectionSurrey Art Gallery
Inuit Art in the 1970sDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Inuit Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene B. PowerUniversity of Michigan Museum of Art
Sculpture of the Inuit: Masterwork Exhibitors of the Canadian ArcticInuit Gallery of Vancouver
Inuit Master Artists of the 1970sInuit Gallery of Vancouver
Cape DorsetWinnipeg Art Gallery
Collectors' Choice - An Exhibition of Important Inuit SculptureWaddington Galleries
First Annual Collectors' Invitational ExhibitionInuk 1/Eskimo Art
The Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art from the Art Gallery of OntarioUniversity of Guelph
Four Cape Dorset SculptorsTheo Waddington Galleries
Cape Dorset Sculptors and Their SculptureThe Inuit Art Collection Mr. and Mrs. James F. Bacon
The Year of the BearThe Arctic Circle
The Jacqui and Morris Shumiatcher Collection of Inuit ArtNorman Mackenzie Art Gallery, University of Regina
Inuit Art from the Art Centre CollectionMacdonald Stewart Art Centre
Out of the Depths: Whalebone SculptureThe Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art
Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit ArtArt Gallery of Ontario
Fantasy and Stylization - Cape Dorset SculptureInuit Gallery of Vancouver
Inuit Masterworks: Selections from the Collection of Indian and Northern Affairs CanadaMcMichael Canadian Collection
Arctic Vision: Art of the Canadian InuitDepartment of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Canadian Arctic Producers
The Oral TraditionNational Museum of Man
Gems in Arctic Jade: Sculpture of the InuitArctic Artistry
Baffin Island SculptureInuit Gallery of Vancouver
Our Hoods are FullArctic Artistry
Kiawak AshoonaTheo Waddington
Kiawak Ashoona - Stone SculptureWaddington Galleries
Kiugak Ashoona - Recent SculptureHouston North Gallery
The World Around MeUniversity of Lethbridge Art Gallery
Die Kunst aus der ArktisDepartment of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa, presented by Commerzbank
Inuit Sculpture Prints & DrawingsTheo Waddington Galleries
Eskimo CarvingsWaddington
Taleelayu-Sedna: An exhibition of Eskimo Art derived from the legends of the sea goddessGallery One
Arctic Forms - Inuit SculptureArctic Inuit Art Gallery
Images of the Far NorthStudio Art Gallery, State University of New York
Kiawak Ashoona: aus Cape Dorset, Baffin-Insel, NordkanadaInuit Galerie
Hunters of OldInukshuk Galleries Inc.
Ten Masterworks Exhibition ArtistsGallery of the Arctic
Cold Stones, Warm Hearts: Inuit Art from the Northwest TerritoriesUniversity of Richmond
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
Primitive Art from the ArcticArctic Artistry
Images of the Far NorthArctic Artistry (held at the Erie County Fairgrounds)
Eskimo SculptureMan & His World, Arctic Pavilion
Master Works from the Early YearsArctic Artistry
Masters of the Arctic: An Exhibition of Contemporary Inuit MasterworksPresented by the Amway Corporation at the United Nations General Assembly
Cape Dorset Graphics *60(annual collection)
Cape Dorset Graphics *63(annual collection)
Arctic MirrorCanadian Museum of Civilization
Through the Eyes of the ShamanArctic Artistry
A Family Tradition: Inuit Art from Canada's ArcticPresented by Arctic Inuit Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Granville Island Canadian Inuit Sculpture Exhibition (first exhibition)Vancouver Inuit Art Society
KiawakMarion Scott Gallery
Inuit Music in Art: Singing and Dancing and PlayingFeheley Fine Arts
Masterwork Sculpture 1985Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Inuit MasterworksInuit Gallery of Vancouver
Granville Island Canadian Inuit Sculpture Exhibition (second exhibition)Vancouver Inuit Art Society
Inuit Art: Drawings and Recent SculptureNational Gallery of Canada
In Cape Dorset We Do It This Way: Three Decades of Inuit PrintmakingMcMichael Canadian Art Collection
Our Hoods Are FullArctic Artistry
Inuit Sculpture: Displayed in Conjunction with the 1991 Cape Dorset Annual Graphics CollectionMuscarelle Museum of Art
Inuit Sculpture--New AcquisitionsPucker Gallery
Small Sculptures by Great Artists IFeheley Fine Arts
Small Sculptures by Great Artists IIFeheley Fine Arts
Strange Scenes: Early Cape Dorset DrawingsMcMichael Canadian Collection
Small Sculptures by Great Artists IIIFeheley Fine Arts
Arctic Spirit 35 Years of Canadian Inuit ArtFrye Art Museum
On Collectors and Collecting: Selections from the Herb & Cece Schreiber Family CollectionThe Art Gallery of Hamilton
Sculpture of the Inuit: Major Works by the Masters of StoneMaslak McLeod Canadian Art
The Inuit ImaginationWinnipeg Art Gallery
Selections from the John and Mary Robertson Collection of Inuit ArtAgnes Etherington Art Centre Queen's University
The Collector's Eye Inuit Art from Private CollectionsAlbers Gallery
Keeping Our Stories Alive: An Exhibition of the Art and Crafts from Dene and Inuit of CanadaInstitute of American Indian Arts Museum
Immaginario Inuit Arte e cultura degli esquimesi canadesiGalleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
Cape Dorset Print Collection (printmaker) *62(annual collection)
Inspiration Four Decades of SculptureMarion Scott Gallery
ART ESKIMOGalerie de France
Eskimo ArtEmbankment Gallery
Images of our pastArt of Man Gallery
Contemporary Canadian Eskimo ArtGimpel Fils

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