Inuit Artists A Showcase and Celebration of Inuit Artists and their Art

Eliyakota Samualie

Community: Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut, Canada
(1939 -1987)

Eliyakota Samualie is not only an extraordinary Inuit Artist, I believe she is one of the most accomplished graphic artist illustrators in the world. Personally, I cannot think of another artist in the history of fine art who has shown a higher level of sophistication and attention to detail, within a characteristicly stylized iconography that transcends culture, environment, and time. Her work is timeless and universal, and beautifully rendered with skillful precision and refinement. She rises above all other artists through time to the very highest levels of accomplishment in her work, which can stand out on any museum wall next to any of the masters. Not just as part of an Inuit Artists collection, but as part of a collection of the world’s greatest artists and illustrators.

Much of her work is also playful and cartoonish, as she allows herself to be silly at times and bring childhood characters to life. So she does not take herself too seriously, yet still challenges herself to reach greater heights of accomplishment in her work. Of course her body of work includes many richly cultural icons and celebrations of her arctic environment and uniquely Inuit experience. However, if someone unfamiliar with Inuit Art were to see her beautifully composed drawings of birds and fish on a museum wall they would have no idea she was Native, Inuit, and spent her entire life in one of the most remote and harshest environments in the world. I believe this makes her body of work not only extraordinary, but also unsurpassed in the world of art.

I have included many hundreds of examples of her work in the gallery below which I hope will give viewers a fuller and deeper appreciation for her lifetime achievement as a master graphic artist.

Eliyakota’s work is held in several museum collections worldwide, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Cape Breton University Art Gallery, the University of Delaware, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Art Gallery of Toronto, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

“A Canadian Inuit graphic artist and sculptor, Eliyakota Samualie was born in a coastal camp near Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories. Since her father died when she was very young, Eliyakota was raised for many years by her maternal grandparents. She moved into Cape Dorset in the early 1960s to live with her mother. Though Eliyakota never married, she raised one adopted child until her death in 1987.

Eliyakota began drawing in the early 1960s while still living on the land. Her drawings were first translated into prints for the 1970 annual Cape Dorset collection. Eliyakota’s imagery consisted mainly of bird forms, occasionally combined with human, spirit, or flesh elements. Her drawings and the resulting print images are notable for their precision, stylization, and symmetry. Line and composition are tightly controlled; Eliyakota’s birds are not merely depicted, they are displayed.”

Taken from: North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary, 1995.  By Ingo Hessel


Available Work

Eliyakota Samualie - Inuit Art Gallery - A Showcase and Celebration of this Inuit Artist's Life and Work