Print this page

Kananginak: Legend of the Loon and Raven

The Artist

An accomplished printmaker, Kananginak Pootoogook (1953–2010) produced drawings and prints for the Kinngait (Cape Dorset) graphic arts program since the late 1950s. His work was included in almost every annual collection since that time until his passing in 2009.

As a prominent community leader, Pootoogook was instrumental in the formation of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative graphic arts program and served for many years as President of its Board of Directors. His first print, a collaborative image with his father, was included in the first catalogued collection of Cape Dorset prints in 1959.

Pootoogook was highly skilled at representing Arctic wildlife in his work, especially the many species of birds that frequent the North. In later years he focused more on the culture of the Inuit, producing realistic, narrative drawings of camp and hunting scenes. In 2010, Pootoogook was given the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for his work in the Visual Arts. Posthumously in 2017, his drawings were featured at the Venice Biennale.

Legend of the Loon and Raven

The Work of Art

This limited edition  stone-cut print  was produced and published in 1971.The work of art is the second work gifted to the University from other worldwide first peoples (the other being Crane Eskimo by Ikseetarkyuk). The Legend of the Loon and the Raven refers to the story by  Inuit author Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley and her husband. The story begins when Raven, bored with flying around the snowy landscape, pays a visit to Loon’s igloo. Loon sits sewing, patiently listening as Raven prattles on, until, bored by his own ramblings, Raven suggests they make new coats for each other. Dipping the sewing needle into ash from Loon’s lamp, Raven paints an intricate design on Loon’s white feathers. When Loon attempts to return the favour, Raven won’t stay still and Loon’s painstaking work is ruined. Furious, Loon throws the lamp at Raven, covering him completely in soot. Raven throws the lamp back at Loon, flattening her feet.