He worked through pain and addictions to produce his celebrated wall hangings
OTTAWA — From Saturday's Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009
Normee Ekoomiak endured a great deal of pain during his life, both
emotional and physical, but no matter how bad things got, he always went
back to his art. Even when eight of his fingers and both legs had to be
amputated in 2007, he tried for months to keep stitching his celebrated
wall hangings before he finally admitted defeat.
Renowned across North America for his paintings, drawings and embroidered
tapestries, Mr. Ekoomiak was an Inuk who illustrated Inuit life, myths and
culture. Praised in 2000 by a critic as "remarkable for their exquisite
use of form and colour," much of his art was autobiographical, displaying
the traditional way of life that he experienced first-hand growing up in
northern Quebec during the 1950s.
Although Mr. Ekoomiak built an enviable artistic reputation with his
colourful wall hangings made of woollen embroidery and felt appliqué, his
serious addiction to drugs and alcohol during most of his life led to
periodic bouts of poverty and homelessness.