REGIONAL COMMENTARY – Shining light on hidden gems

Commentary by Katrina Owens

Recently I’ve been trying hard to make it a point to profile local painters, crafters, writers, fibre-artists and photographers in The Leader. I decided to create the series after realizing there are lots of talented people in Slave Lake.
Since starting this venture, which debuted around six weeks ago, I have met several interesting people, who have been all over the creative spectrum, from a tattoo artist to an author, it’s been quite the ride so far and I’m looking forward to continuing it in 2016.
In all honesty, when I moved to this rural area of northern Alberta, it didn’t take me long to realize sports lay prevalent above most things. But as time has gone by I’ve come to learn that isn’t the necessarily the case, there’s an abundance of artistically-inclined people in M.D. 124, all of which have skill set worthy of being highlighted.
For instance, the magnitude of fibre-artists (which is a fancy word for quilters and seamstresses) in these parts is incredible. I always seem to find myself at their tables during the markets and craft shows. Ladies and gentlemen – I am envious of your nimble fingers and your talent. I suppose as a writer I’m more in-tune with a pen and paper rather than a needle and thread.
Another area of expertise I’m especially fond of is handcrafted jewelry, now I don’t want to spoil an upcoming feature, however I’ll share this little tidbit about a local jewelry maker with you. I had the pleasure of chatting with her a few weeks ago and she showed me a majority of her work. I won’t go into grave detail but I will say this, I was absolutely blown away at the craftsmanship and the quality of the peices.
I was perplexed when she told me her business wasn’t as booming as she’d hope; I feel shedding light on her talents shows readers that buying local doesn’t mean you’re giving up on the quality of big-name chains. That afternoon reassured me there are definitely some hidden gems in our community.
The crafters, painters and photographers in Slave Lake seem to be growing in numbers. I had the opportunity to speak with a handful of each over the past few weeks. It’s intriguing to see them talk about their work; in fact every time I get the chance to sit down and chat, it makes me enjoy my job that much more.
I once heard a saying that goes something like this: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs.
I believe that these artists are doing just that, it takes a lot of chutzpah to follow your dreams, let alone to put time, effort and money into them. I hope the series brings attention to the artists, but also to show others that it’s okay to want to have a career doing what you love. I understand that sentence may be a little controversial because of the current economy, and I understand that everyone doesn’t have the luxury to work in the field they want to.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is it’s never too late, and life is just too short to wake up every morning dreading the work-day ahead.

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