Menlo Park, California – Tech giant Google honored what would have been the 87th birthday of the most notable Inuit artist in Canadian history, Kenojuak Ashevak. To commemorate her birthday, google.ca features a special splash page modeled after her signature work of art called “The Enchanted Owl”. The Google doodle displayed a coffee colored ochre owl front facing with its plumes prominently featured with the letters “G O O G L E”. During her lifetime, Ashevak became known as a pioneer artist. In early January 2013, she passed away at her home in Kinngait (Cape Dorset) after fighting a protracted battle against lung cancer.
“The Enchanted Owl” was sketched by pencil in 1960 and became famous throughout the Northern Territories. A decade later, it was prominently featured on a postage stamp. Ashevak would go on to make additional copies of her famous painting with several of them, including the original, in the possession of the National Gallery. Life was not easy for Ashevak. She was born on Baffin Island and lived the nomad’s life. She married and bore her husband seven children while adopting five more children. Five of her children would not survive their childhood years. She finally settled down in Kinngait. During her lifetime, she was married three times with the first two spouses passing away. Despite her fame, she remained unpretentious and was noted for her simplicity, modesty, and unfeigned humility. This spirit was evident in her artwork.
A fellow artist in the same Cape Dorset settlement also praised her for the sheer humility she was displayed regarding her gifts and talents. When interviewed, she would often express gratitude for having been blessed with this talent, but otherwise eschewed any manner of speech that would be indicative of pride or haughtiness. For the 75th anniversary of the John Bell Chapel at Appleby College in Oakville, Ontario, she designed a special stain glass window becoming the first Inuit artist to design one for the chapel.