Mayoreak Ashoona was born September 22, 1946 in Cape Dorset. Her name is sometimes spelled Mayoriak, Mayhoreak, Mayuriaq or Mayureak. Her mother is SheouakParr Petaulassie and her father is Agiak Petaulassie.
For a very long time Mayoreak lived at an outpost camp. Being such a great distance away from people demanded self-sufficiency: she needed an income to provide for necessities. So, Mayoreak took up carving as well as drawing. It made economic sense to do so, and kept her occupied. Mayoreak’s carvings are very dynamic and strong and have uniquely feminine perspectives in their rendering, as do her drawings. You can see the influences from her background in the art she produces. Ashoona draws in a variety of styles (including abstract) and the figures that she produces are engaged in a variety of activities. Ashoona has in the context of her paintings and drawings, an ability to explore—to work and capture the essence and master techniques of abstract or figurative representation through symmetry and balance.*
Mayureak and her husband, Kaka, also an accomplished artist moved back to the land in the late 1970’s to return to a more traditional lifestyle.
“Every year I prepare skins, sew clothing, make soapstone carvings and I have also been drawing since the time they started buying drawings. I will put all of my abilities towards what needs doing, as long as my abilities are available to me. There are times when it is difficult if I’ve not yet learned how to do something. But as we are the only ones living at our outpost camp I do get things done! There has never been anyone there to answer my questions, so I’ve had to learn how to do things and make things on my own.”
Mayureak, Ashoona, from Inuit Women Artists, 1994.
*Reflections on Mayureak Ashoona from a telephone interview conducted with Robert Kussy (son-in-law of Kiawak Ashoona), conducted at the Inuit Art Centre, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. November 2002.