She Was A Free Spirit: Erica Donovan captures the vibrant colours of her arctic home through sought-after beaded jewellery
Erica Donovan (Lugt) is an Inuvialuk artist from Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories; Daughter To Eric & Tootsie Lugt, Granddaughter to Eddie & Alice Gruben. Erica makes jewelry inspired by the land and her Inuvialuit culture, in particular Inuvialuit dancing parkas. “I’ve always been attracted to colour. I bring my love of colour, of all colours and what my eyes interpret from the colours of the Arctic to my creations.” Erica also has a passion and pedigree for fashion; she comes from a long line of well-known Gruben seamstresses. Erica is committed to creating wearable fashion that is at once traditional yet modern. Jewelry and fashion design are more than creative outlets for Erica. They have also been an important part of her healing journey.
Erica was a featured vendor at Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto in 2018 and sold out at IFWTO 2020. Her earrings were on display at Paris Fashion Week in 2019. Erica co-coordinated the 2019 Arctic Fashion Show as part of the Great Northern Arts Festival Society in Inuvik. She is also a member of the Creations for Continuity and Proudly Indigenous Crafts & Design website. More recently, she took part in the 2021 Earring show with BC Craft Council as well as the Entreprenorth Circumpolar Fashion Cohort.
This video is from our EntrepreNorth Walk in Beauty video series, which captures the stories of the entrepreneurs in our Circumpolar Fashion Cohort. Click here to see more videos from the series.
Follow She Was A Free Spirit | www.shewasafreespirit.com
This video was made by aRTLess Collective with support from NWT Arts
Arctic Ocean Mocs: Elizabeth Arey shares the warmth of her Inuvialuit culture through luxurious handcrafted slippers
Elizabeth Arey is Inuvialuk from the coastal community of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. Elizabeth was taught to bead and sew by her mother, who learned from her mother, the well-known Inuvialuk seamstress, Alice Gruben. Elizabeth’s technical skills have also benefitted from working alongside other talented artists. Through Arctic Ocean Mocs, Elizabeth offers clients warm, cozy, and stylish slippers with intricately beaded uppers. Made from locally sourced sealskin, fox, and beaver, Elizabeth’s moccasins are based on a slipper pattern she inherited from her grandmother. Elizabeth’s beadwork, which features ice, snow, and flowers, is inspired by the beauty and bounty of nuna (the land). Her intricate beadwork is constantly evolving and always unique. In addition to creating beautiful moccasins, Elizabeth is also keeping sewing traditions alive in her community by sharing her skills with the younger generation.
Willow Crescent Quilting: Dorathy Wright sews memories and dreams into colourful quilts, parkas, and mittens
Dorathy Wright is a Gwich’in quilter and artist from Inuvik, Northwest Territories, who now calls Norman Wells home. Dorathy comes from a family of artists, though she is mainly self-taught. While she learned traditional beading and embroidery in junior high and high school, Dorathy came to quilting as an adult. With the help of some how-to videos, she picked up the skill quickly. She has since taken classes on specific quilt patterns, including watercolour rails and double pinwheels.
Dorathy’s work, which celebrates colour, line, and texture, seeks to captivate the viewer’s spirit and emotions, sparking a sense of mystery, excitement, and joy. She aspires to be a contemporary dressmaker and hopes to one day open a craft store to display her textile work and provide materials and designs to the communities of the Sahtú.
With over ten years of experience as a quilter and artist, Dorathy has been selling and donating quilts for more than five years. Recipients of her work include the Norman Wells Land Corporation, Mackenzie Mountain School, the NWT SPCA, the East Three Girls Basketball Team, and many local families. Dorathy is committed to supporting, educating, and donating to her local community in the hopes that her crafting skills can encourage other young artists to engage in healthy and productive hobbies.