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

Meelia Kelly - Inuit Artist

Meelia Kelly

Community: Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut, Canada
Meelia Kelly

Meelia Kelly’s art is a playful mixture of wonderfully weird, cartoonishly silly, and beautifully bold. Of course there are many lovely and more delicate drawings in the mix as well, such as landscapes and scenes of every day life for the Inuit, as well as joyfully colored drawings of animals and fantasy birds. But for the most part her work stands out from the crowd as wild things among the tamed. Many of her birds have sharp teeth and look like some sort of prehistoric Teradactyls that dance on the line between childlike whimsey and nightmare. She began her artistic career late in life, but during that time she created a vast portfolio which includes many of the most wildly original works of Inuit Art the world will ever know.

Meelia Kelly was born in 1940 and lived on the land for most of her youth, informing the imagery of her art practice including scenes of families, hunting scenes and animals. Working out of the Kinngait studios, Kelly’s work was featured in the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection from 2001-2006, and her print “Pursued” (2003) graced the Fall 2006 cover of the Inuit Art Quarterly.

Meelia Kelly was a Kinngait-based graphic artist known for use of exaggerated shapes and colourful works. Kelly lived the first several years of her life between nomadic winter and summer camps before her family settled in Kinngait. Kelly’s older sister, Sheojuk Etidlooie, was also a graphic artist and encouraged Kelly to begin making art. In the mid-1990s, Kelly began to work out of the Kinngait Studio run by the local co-operative, and she quickly developed her own personal style. In Hoot (2006) an owl, or what looks to be the abstracted body of an owl, stands out for it’s bright fuchsia body and little red feet poking out at the bottom. The body is filled to the brim with smaller white owls, looking straight ahead with wide eyes, and they look as if they are being taken for a ride.

Kelly’s rendering of the details of her community and arctic wildlife garnered her attention and her work was featured in the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection from 2001-2006. In addition, her piece Pursued (2003) was featured on the cover of the spring 2004 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly. She passed away in 2006, but continues to inspire a new generation of artists, notably her grandson Moe Kelly.

(Info provided by Inuit Art Foundation)


The 2001 Cape Dorset Print Collection includes four images by a new artist to the annual collection, Meelia Kelly. Meelia is the younger sister of the late Sheojuk Etidlooie. Like her sister, Meelia is a late-comer to the graphic arts and her work reveals a similar confidence and talent.  Encouraged by her sister to draw, Meelia began bringing her drawings to the studios only last year and has since experimented with both etching and lithography during workshops held in Cape Dorset. (From West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, 2001)

(Information provided by Dorset Fine Arts.)

Available Work

Inuit Artist, Meelia Kelly, Art Gallery: A Celebration of this Inuit Artist's Life and Work

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