Adopted son of Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak dies

Arnaqu Ashevak, the adopted son of celebrated Cape Dorset, Nunavut, visual artist Kenojuak Ashevak and a well-known Inuit artist and sculptor in his own right, died last week. He was 52.

Arnaqu Ashevak, the adopted son of celebrated Cape Dorset, Nunavut, visual artist Kenojuak Ashevak and a well-known Inuit artist and sculptor in his own right, died last week. He was 52.

Ashevak died of kidney failure, from a complication of cancer, at the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit on Jan. 13. His funeral took place this past weekend in Cape Dorset.

"I heard about his health and just was very sorry to hear about his passing," Brian Lunger, manager and curator of the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum in Iqaluit, told CBC News on Friday.

"It's always very sad when people die at a younger age and, you know, before they should anyhow."

Born in an outpost camp near Cape Dorset in the winter of 1956, Ashevak was adopted by Kenojuak (Kenoayoak) and Johnniebo Ashevak, both graphic artists and printmakers.

Ashevak began carving in the 1980s, and was awarded a grant by the Inuit Art Foundation for a five-week artistic residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 1991.

In 1992, he won a second scholarship, this time to attend a three-week workshop at the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland, Vt.

Lunger, whose museum carries many Cape Dorset prints and sculptures, said many of Ashevak's works, including his original prints, can be seen today at the Cape Dorset printshop where he and his parents produced their work.

"I think my favourite art of his was his sculptures that he made," Lunger said.

"All of his art work was quite original, but I think especially his carvings, he made just really unique interesting carvings."

Cape Dorset artist Kanaanginnaa Pootoogook told CBC News he could count on Ashevak to help reproduce his prints in stone-cut.

"When he worked on some of my prints, he always made sure he was doing it right before they were printed," Pootoogook said in Inuktitut.