Nothing is left without meaning in the Aboriginal culture. Even in the world of art, every paint stroke, every choice of colour, and every method in which things are sewn, to name a few, symbolize values, are meant to teach lessons, and are strategies for survival. Take the Iroquois cornhusk dolls for instance, the Iroquois culture did not believe in designing faces on their dolls because a child might start to believe what she needs is a pretty face. And so, from the time they are very young, the Iroquois learn through their art that who they are is not defined by their looks.
After years of wanting to learn the techniques, Verna Steinhauer finally got the opportunity to improve her sewing and painting skills through the Aboriginal Arts and Culture Program in Lac La Biche. She proudly showcased her work at the 2014 Aboriginal Art Expose and told the story behind each of her projects.
One piece in particular stood out with its simplicity yet elegance: a decorative feather. Verna pointed out each dab of paint, displayed in a symmetric pattern along the core of the feather, represents family members she holds dear. Furthermore, this representation links to the vibrant colour palette she chose, that of the medicine wheel, signifying the interconnectedness of life.
“It’s important to keep the art and culture alive and going,” Verna explains, and she certainly does her part in maintaining it. On top of creating beautiful art, she continues to sew regalia for her daughter and husband’s traditional dances..
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