Collective Memories

September 15 – December 12, 2021

Collective Memories: Stonecuts from Cape Dorset features contemporary graphic arts crafted by Inuit artists and printmakers during a transitional decade in the arctic region. 


In the 1960s, graphic arts flourished in the newly formed Cape Dorset (Kinngnait) arts co-operative on Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada. Established in 1959 by James Houston, the co-operative sought to encourage art making and craft as an income source for local Inuit residents transitioning from seminomadic camps to permanent settlements. The residents experimented with materials and techniques at the co-operative, inventing their own adaptation of woodcut printmaking through direct stencil and relief carving on stone. The work created through this process became known as stonecut prints. Editions from these prints were collected and catalogued, with selections being shared in periodical publications across Canada, the United States, and Europe. 

The selected works in Collective Memories speak to the collaborative nature, both in technique and meaning, of cultural practices at the co-operative. From drawing to stenciling, from stone preparation to carving, from printmaking to distributing, the prints carry forth the collective voices and individual contributions of Inuit artists, stonecutters, printers at their co-operative community. In another manner, the narratives depicted reflect the lived experiences of a transitioning decade. Crafted between 1961 and 1972, the selected prints speak to the traditional migratory lifestyle, a way of life undergoing rapid change as outside cultural influences impacted day-to-day lives. The subjects depicted of mammals, birds, and marine life bring forth legends, shamanistic practices, and mythologies that had been memorized and told from one generation to the next. 

Collective Memories invites you to consider how the influence of the graphic art co-ops contributed to the rapid changes the individuals experienced, yet provided a means to preserve and share stories within this rapidly changing period. Each stonecut is a memento, indicative of the artists' and printmakers' lived experiences and reflections, merging as collective memories.  


Collective Memories is curated by Art Historian Britt Royer. The exhibition features designs and artwork by Pitseolak Ashoona, Lucy Qinnuayuak, Pauta Saila, Ningeeuga Oshuitoq, Agnes Nanogak Goose, Kenojuak Ashevak, Napachie Pootoogook, and Tumira Ashoona. Prints and editions by Timothy Ottochie, Lukta Qiatsuk, Eegyvudluk Pootoogook, and Iyola Kingwatsiak.

The stonecut prints featured were gifted into the Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art Permanent Collection in memory of the collector, Barbara Allen Burns. Thank you to Saint Mary's College of California campus collaborators at the Intercultural Center (IC) and the College Committee of Inclusive Excellence (CCIE). 


Related Programs:

Opening Celebration 

Thursday, September 16 | 4–8 p.m. 

Save the Date! Join the Saint Mary's College Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of our Fall Exhibitions Keith + Kari and Collective Memories. More information to come. Explore the upcoming exhibitions here >>

View calendar listing >>


Third Thursday | Late Night in The Museum 

Thursday, October 21 | 5–8 p.m.

Join the Museum of Art for an evening exploring the exhibition Collective Memories: Stonecuts from Cape Dorset.

  • 5:30 p.m.  | A guided curatorial look into the Cape Dorset prints through exploring Inuit legends and animal stories. 
  • 6:30–8 p.m. | Learn about printmaking practices through this workshop, supplies included. 

Register for Printmaking Workshop here >> 




Image credit: Kenojuak Ashevak (1927–2013) Owls, Ravens and Dogs, 1967, 24 1/2 x 33 5/8 inches, Stonecut, Ed. 42/50 Printed by Iyola Kingwatsiak (1933–2000), Gifted in memory of Barbara Allen Burns, Saint Mary's College Museum of Art Permanent Collection [2008.11.2]. 


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