1990s New Horizons
At the start of the decade, the Cape Dorset print studio relied on an established group of senior artists to feed its print program. Arctic animals and the old ways of life remained the most common subject matter, seen in the works of Simeonie Qupapik, Tikitu Qinnuayuak, Napachie Pootoogook, Kenojuak Ashevak, Pitaloosie Saila, Mary Pudlat, Mayoreak Ashoona and Kananginak Pootoogook. In contrast, Pudlo Pudlat was one of the artists who depicted the modern influence in the North, until his passing in 1992.
Change was in the offing. Audla Pudlat, Arnaqu Ashevak, Johnny Pootoogook and Kavavaow Mannomee represented new artistic horizons, and many of these artists became more resolved as the decade progressed. Two notable women — the Elder Sheojuk Etidlooie and the young Shuvinai Ashoona — contributed their first drawings to the studio in 1994 and 1997 respectively, adding their unique voices to the growing roster of Cape Dorset artists.
In 1994 the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative invited the master printer Paul Matchnik, from Studio PM in Montréal, to conduct etching workshops in Cape Dorset. This rejuvenated interest in etching, which had not been practised in the studio for almost 10 years. With the participation of Studio PM, Cape Dorset released a crop of etchings and aquatints in its 1995 annual collection, complementing the prints created with the trusted stonecut, stencil and lithographic techniques. The etching technique helped invigorate the work of Sheojuk Etidlooie, Mary Pudlat, Nikotai Mills and Kakulu Saggiaktok.
The sizes of annual collections remained relatively stable through the 1990s, roughly 28 to 35 prints per year (not including special commissions). In this decade, the principal stonecut and stencil printmakers included Kavavaow Mannomee, Qiatsuk Niviaqsi, Iyola Kingwatsiak, Pee Mikkigak (who died in 1996), Enoosiq Ottokie and Arnaqu Ashevak, while the main lithographers were Audla Pudlat, Pitseolak Niviaqsi, Johnny Pootoogook and Niviaqsi Quvianaqtuliaq.
Major solo and group exhibitions at national museums, a trend started in the 1980s, as well as an increasing number of honors and accolades, further elevated the stature of senior artists such as Kenojuak Ashevak, Pudlo Pudlat and Napachie Pootoogook. But by the close of the decade, the art world was beginning to take note of younger artists, such as Shuvinai Ashoona and Arnaqu Ashevak. The decade ended auspiciously: 1999 marked the Cape Dorset studio’s 40th anniversary as well as the birth of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut.