1933 - 2014
As far as life experience goes, Kiawak's formative period is different than most people's who are producing art in Canada. Being a very private man, Ashoona produces artwork in seclusion so he can be alone with his thoughts. He takes art very seriously and for him it is a relaxed and unhurried productive process.
Kiawak recognises that he had an ability to do things with his hands and most of his art production is based on the use of hand tools. Probably the greatest volume of his work and the most significant pieces were produced when he was at outpost camp. Kiawak Ashoona's link to older cultural values and oral traditions is evident in the number of sculptures he has produced in which spiritual figures, shamans, creatures of mythology and storytelling are recurring themes.
Kiawak is reserved and quiet and prefers not to tout his accomplishments. Although the visible signs of his awards are evident, Kiawak is extremely proud of the fact that his mother, Pitseolak Ashoona has also won an award. In turn, he is also proud that his own recognition sets a standard for his children.
Kiawak Ashoona began carving in the early 1950's. He generally works in large-scale sculpture, depicting a variety of subject matter including hunters, mother and child and shamanic themes. "Kiawak was the fourth son of the noted tribe leader Ashoona, who helped form the village of Cape Dorset when he brought his hunting group in off the land and settled there, at around the same time as Pootoogook and Saila. Kiawak's mother was the legendary graphic artist Pitseolak Ashoona, RCA. All of her surviving children made art, though Kiawak may be the finest carver of his generation…. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2000 and elected to the Royal Canadian Academy in 2003."
- quoted from Cape Dorset Sculpture, published by Douglas and McIntyre, 2005
Also known as Kiugak, Kiowak, Keeower, Kioga, Kiogak, Kiawak.