Woman of the Sea

About this object

History of use

Contemporary Inuit prints were first produced at Cape Dorset in 1957. Although precursors to printmaking can be seen in women's skin applique work and in men's incising of ivory, stone and bone, the impetus for printmaking was as a commercial venture. This venture was established jointly by Inuit artists and John Houston, the civil administrator for Cape Dorset. Other Inuit communities quickly followed the commercial success of Cape Dorset's West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative. Printmaking developed as a communal activity following a Japanese, rather than a Western, model of serigraph production. Each year the cooperatives produce a series of limited edition prints which are sold in the retail art market. In 1965, the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council was established from the Canadian Eskimo Art Committee to ensure high standards were maintained. Printmaking, along with stone carving, provide cash income for communities which have undergone rapid and significant change, during the late 20th century, from traditional hunting based societies to settled communities dependent on consumer goods. The prevalent images depicted in Inuit art are of traditional life, arctic animals and mythology. Recently, contemporary subjects have been depicted by a minority of artists.

Cultural context

contemporary art

Iconographic meaning

Taleelayu also called Sedna, was considered the provider of food and the protector of animals.

Physical description

Print depicting a female figure with the body of a fish, and with fish emerging from her eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hands, tail, and back. Below the image is written, "Woman of the Sea stonecut 17/50 Dorset 1976 Soroseelutu." Printed on the right-hand side are the names of the artist and printmaker in Inuit syllabics along with the Cape Dorset stylized red igloo seal. The Canadian Eskimo Arts Council's blind embossed stamp is in the lower right-hand corner.