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?