Elsie Klengenberg was one of the first artists to learn and develop the stencilling technique that is used to great effect in Holman today. She is a member of a family that is well known in the western Arctic, for historical as well as artistic reasons. Her father, Victor Ekootak), was one of the pioneer artists in the early 1960s. Her husband, Patrick Akovak Klengenberg, is the son of Jørgen Klengenberg, and the grandson of Christian (Charlie) Klengenberg, a whaler turned trapper. Two of Elsie’s children, Helen and Stanley Klengenberg, are also artists.
Elsie grew up in the Read Island area but moved to Holman via Kugluktuk when the Read Island HBC post relocated in 1962. A number of other families relocated to Holman from Read Island; still others moved to Kugluktuk.
The artmaking activities of her father and husband interested Elsie, and she was encouraged by Father Tardy to make drawings. He purchased them for 50 cents or one dollar. If he didn’t buy one, she went home, erased all the pencil lines, and made another drawing for sale. In 1980, she started working in the printshop and was given help by Mary K. Okheena to learn the stencil technique. Mabel Nigiyok began the following year and the three women worked creatively and cooperatively in developing the sophisticated stencil method of mylar overlays to create layers of colour and tonality in their work.
In 1995, Klengenberg moved to Inuvik for a year to take a fine arts course at Aurora College. In October/November 1997, she participated in a two-week, pan-Arctic Women’s Workshop at the Ottawa School of Art and was one of three Inuit women artists featured on “Adrienne Clarkson Presents.”4 From 1998 to 2000, she attended Arctic College courses in jewelry making with her partner, Joseph Haluksit, at the Cambridge Bay campus. Klengenberg has given workshops in the stencilling technique. In 1999 she demonstrated her skills at The Winnipeg Art Gallery, in conjunction with an exhibition, Elsie Klengenberg: Legend of Uvajuq. Elsie continues to create her delicate tonal prints, which captivate visitors to the community.