Irene Avaalaqiaq Tiktaalaaq

Born in 1941 (Tebesjuak Lake, Nunavut)

Although Avaalaaqiaq believes she was born in 1941, she was once told by an acquaintance that her actual year of birth was 1936. At that time and in the area, the dates of births on the land were not generally recorded. Her grandparents raised her on the land in the customary Inuit style. Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq once said:

Whenever I see my wall hangings they remind me of my life. Also I always remember my grandmother and the stories and legends she told me. When I do sewing and make a wall hanging I do what I remember. When I am looking at it, it looks like it is actually happening in those days, as it was in my life.

In 1956 she married David Tiktaalaaq and they moved to Baker Lake in 1958.

Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq began her art career in 1969. Eventually, she joined the local printmaking studio, not just to create her own images but also to print them herself. She is best known for her unique style as a textile artist. Working with appliqué and embroidery, Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq creates a world filled with spirits and transformations based on stories and legends passed on from her grandmother. Her work is rooted in her lived experience, often dealing with themes of being an orphan as well as Inuit stories her grandmother told her.

Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq is today one of Canada’s most renowned Inuit artists.

Her works are part of the collections at the National Gallery of Canada, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre and many more.