A Splash Of Colour To Life

More of Our Canada|November 2019

A Splash Of Colour To Life
An unexpected return home leads to the discovery of a family and a place for her art.
Dawn Oman

I am a self-taught First Nations artist born in Yellowknife, N.W.T., and a direct descendant of Chief Snuff of the Yellow knives, one of the signers of the original Treaty 8 with the government of Canada.

I grew up mostly in foster homes and group homes. There was not a lot of art nor art galleries in Yellowknife at the time. I was, however, exposed at an early age to the embroidery and beadwork of the Native women who would come to Yellowknife from all over the territories to see their doctors, bringing with them beadwork and embroidery to work on. I immediately fell in love with the primary colours and designs being created before my eyes! This was the beginning of my journey through numerous colouring books and packs of watercolour and pencil crayons. Finally, some 30 years later, I discovered my perfect medium—acrylic paint.

While on my quest for the perfect colours, I learned embroidery, sewing, beadwork, spinning yarns and dyeing, and how to knit hats, sweaters and vests. Most of this I did while living on Lasqueti Island, off the east coast of Vancouver Island in the Strait of Georgia, while married to Alan Oman. Island life was perfect for exploring creative artistic outlets. With Alan being a writer— Do you recall The Beachcombers? Among other things, he wrote for that show—it wasn’t long before I wrote and illustrated a “Learn to Knit” instruction booklet that was featured in the Vancouver Sun. I also created “KnitWorks,” my initiative to introduce people to the art of spinning and dyeing yarns into beautiful colours.


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November 2019