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Noah, William
Snowy Owl Snowy Owl
1971 1971

William Noah, son of iconic Inuit artist Jessie Oonark, has been drawing since the 1960s, and making prints since around 1970. Having settled with his family in Qamanittuaq (Baker Lake) in 1958 due to the threat of starvation, his mother encouraged him to make art for income. In addition to his art practice, he is a prominent community member, arts administrator and local politician.

Both Snowy Owl and Oomingmuq the Musk Ox speak to Noah’s desire to depict the animals around him. While these early works show the animals as they would naturally appear when alive, he would later develop his signature style in which skin is stripped away to reveal the inner organs and skeletons of the animal. In both prints, the owl and musk ox stand alone, their forms simplified but presented in naturalistic colours and general anatomical accuracy.

By contrast, Spirits of the Sky reveals Noah’s interest in shamanism, a subject about which he attempted to learn, but was met with much resistance from the community. He has expressed the difficulty in drawing such subjects as he was removed from traditional life and did not know much about it. Despite this, shamanistic themes, as seen here, were common in his early work. In this case, a bird-like transformation figure appears to chase a bird carrying something it its beak. The two figures appear to float in space, the sky a vast emptiness.

Noah, William
Back River area near Qamani'tuaq (or Baker Lake) NU 1943 Back River area near Qamani'tuaq (or Baker Lake) NU 1943
Snowy Owl Snowy Owl
1971 1971
Stonecut and stencil on paper, 29/50 Stonecut and stencil on paper, 29/50
58.5 x 82.6 cm
Gift of Guardian Capital Group Limited, 2020 Gift of Guardian Capital Group Limited, 2020
63-015.12

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