“Born at Sako, a traditional Inuit camp on the Southwest coast of Baffin Island, Northwest Territories, Napatchie Pootoogook is the only surviving daughter of one of Inuit art’s most important figures, Pitseolak Ashoona. Along with her sculptor brothers, [Namoonai, Koomwartok, Ottochie], Kiawak and Kaka Ashoona and her graphic artist sisters-in-law, Mayureak and Sorosiluto Ashoona, Napatchie belongs to a family with a strong artistic identity that has contributed significantly to the reputation of Cape Dorset art and the printmaking studio of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. In the mid-1950’s while living at Kiaktuuq, she married Eegyvukluk Pootoogook (b. 1931), son of the important camp leader, Pootoogook, who has since become of the main printers at the Cape Dorset studio. Like her mother, Napatchie began drawing in the late 1950’s. Since 1960 her work has been included in almost every annual collection of Cape Dorset prints. Napatchie and her husband moved into Cape Dorset in 1965, where they have continued to live, except for a two-year stay in Iqaluit in the early 1970’s.
Although much of her early work, such as the print, “Eskimo Sea Dreams” (1960), presents a lyrical, dream-like reflection of Inuit beliefs in the spirit world, the main thrust of her prints and drawings since the mid-1970’s have been more concerned with recording traditional life, clothing and local Inuit history. In prints such as, “Atchealda’s Battle” (1978), “The First Policeman I Saw” (1978), “Nascopie Reef” (1989) and “Whaler’s Exchange” (1989), Napatchie uses a vigorous, energetic figurative style to bring to life significant events of the past. Like her sister-in-law, Sorosiluto, Napatchie participated in the acrylic painting/drawing workshops established by the West Baffin Co-operative in 1976. Her interest in landscape and Western notions of spatial composition would seem to grow out of this experience. Most recently, Napatchie has been working directly in the lithographic medium and experimenting with life drawing as a preparatory stage toward the print image.”
Marie Routledge In “North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary”, 1995.
Napatchie’s work in recent years has focused on local history and stories about people and events in the Cape Dorset area, often with accompanying text to explain the circumstances. She has amassed a unique and important body of work. She is represented in this year’s annual collection by three prints which illustrate her narrative style and the importance of traditional culture and stories.*
*Except from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative Biography. Annual Print collection 2000.