Mother and Cubs

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 three polar bears in profile, each walking with their head extended forwards. The mother, who is the largest of the three is pictured at the top behind the two cubs who are walking one in front of the other. The Cape Dorset stylized red igloo seal is printed above the name of the printmaker in Inuit syllabics at the bottom left-hand side. Below the image is written, "Mother and cubs Lithograph 9/50 Dorset Kananginak 1977," with the name of the artist written in Inuit syllabics. The Canadian Eskimo Arts Council and Cape Dorset Cooperative blind embossed stamps are in the lower right-hand corner.