Male Fish Gut

Male Fish Gut

Siassie Kenneally (Inuit, Cape Dorset, Canada, b. 1969)

Male Fish Gut, 2006

Ink, pencil, and crayon

30 x 44 inches

Reproduced with the permissions of Dorset Fine 


“Of the younger generation of Inuit artists, Siassie Kenneally presents the familiar and even the mundane from a unique perspective. Not unlike Georgia O’Keeffe who made us see flowers in a new and exciting way, Siassie has the ability to make us see loveliness in unexpected places.”

— Edward Guarino


Siassie Keneally cites her entire family as a large influence on her work. Growing up in a family of artists, it is hard to claim otherwise. From birth, she was surrounded by the work of her father, a carver, and her mother, a prominent graphic artist. Kenneally learned early on from her father the importance of taking advantage of their time together and so began to learn from him to advance her own skills.

Known for being an artist attentive to land, Kenneally credits her love of the land, a recurring theme in her drawings, to what her father taught her: she recalls, “as I was growing up, my father was taking me all over the place, and when he was taking me all over the place, he was making sure I don’t forget every little part of the land.” This emphasis on community and a shared land is something that Keneally incorporates into much of her artwork. Building off of her much talked about 2008 painting “Fish Tails,” Keneally further explores the literal byproducts of hunting, by integrating Inuit worldviews on sustainability.

In Male Fish Gut, Kenneally presents a dissected view of the internal organs of an unknown species of fish. Through subtle variations of pink, purple and beige, Kenneally’s pastel palette allows the viewer to interact with the organs, extracting a sense of beauty from the gutting of the fish. She not only shows the process of fishing as integral to Inuit life, but forces the viewer to interact with a visceral notion of survival. Her anatomical focus on a larger than life scale allows the innards of the fish to be looked at with an intense scrutiny, revealing the intricate beauty of nature’s balance and life in all its aspects.

In addition to her immediate family, Kenneally’s grandmother and cousins were artists, contributing voices from the older and younger generations of Inuit artists to her understanding of art. The artist commemorates the often overlooked ordinary things that the Inuit people share as part of a rich culture, showing us a traditional subject through a contemporary lens. Through the fish gut’s light color and realistic textures, Keaneally creates an air of vulnerability around the painting, causing a more intimate connection between the viewer and the work, and reflecting Kenneally and the Inuit people’s intimate connection with land. Kenneally has expressed an interest in continuing their legacy by educating young Inuit artists, hoping “that I would teach and show a lot of young people, because one day we won’t be here and my father kind of gave me the impression that he is the family of all kinds of people.”

Kamaria Mion ’14 and Alex Schlesinger ’14


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