Friday, November 18, 2011

Kenojuak Ashevak

Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak is one tough broad.

I photographed Kenojuak in Yorkville during a show of her nephew's art. She is 84-years-old and I watched her smoke at least one pack of cigarettes in the three hours I was there.

Now, I don't want to condone smoking, but this lady looked so badass doing it. She made smoking cool.

Besides, she needed a smoke. Kenojuak is a celebrity in the art world. So of course everyone wants to talk to her, but she doesn't speak English. Her daughter translates but after a while I can only imagine that it gets pretty exhausting so every once in a while she would hobble outside on her cane for a few smokes.

Despite trying to hide away, eventually a small half circle of people would form around her, yelling very loudly (dude, she doesn't speak English - her hearing is fine) and posing for photos with her. Still, she seemed completely unphased by it.

For me, as a photographer it was great. She was a natural and when I asked if it was ok to photograph her, her daughter said to photograph whatever I wanted. She pretty much just ignored me.

For her, as a person, I don't know what she makes of it. I mean come on, at some point she must be thinking, "I'm 84, just let me smoke my cigarettes in peace. Stop yelling at me in gibberish." No?


About Della

I'm Della. I take pictures.

I'm a freelance photojournalist based in Toronto. My work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Toronto Life, Hello! Magazine, The Calgary Herald and Sun Media publications. I have also shot for a number of corporate clients, including the Government of Canada, the Law Society of Upper Canada, ING, Accenture, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Takeda, Amgen and Merck Frosst.

Likes: Snoopy Sno-Cone makers, dinosaurs, sharks, hot chocolate, ice cream, This American Life, CBC Radio, asparagus, zebras, travel, photography, grape soda, ice cream, naps, hoodies, the library, good e-mails, duvets, new books, mittens and lists.

Dislikes: Unicorns, ponies, glitter, tomato, wet cat food.

Check out my website at
Contact me at: drollinsphoto (at)

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