Owl Attacking Fish

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

Physical description

Print depicting an owl in downward flight with its claws and wings over its head attacking a fish below. The owl's head is white, its body has a lined pattern overall, suggesting feathers, and the tail and feet are brown and green. The upper body of the fish is brownand green, the belly is white, and the fins are mainly orange-brown. An inscription below the image reads, "Owl Attacking Fish Dorset '67 Stone Cut 31/50 Pitseolak." The artist and printmaker's names are printed in black Inuit syllabics along with the red stylized igloo of the Cape Dorset cooperative at the lower right.