You would have a hard time labelling Haida artist Trace Yeomans as a traditionalist. However, you can see the artistic influence of her Haida ancestry in her desire to fill her home and life with nature, beauty, and meaning. For hundreds of years the people who inhabited Haida Gwaii took the time and made the effort to surround themselves with works of art that symbolically made meaningful personal, social, and historical statements.
Eagle Crest – Oil on Wood. 4 ft x 4 ft
Yeomans combines her fondness for realism in painting with Haida design to create visual representations of a narrative as in her piece White Raven. After receiving a photo of a white raven from her sister and hearing that the other ravens killed it, Yeomans was inspired. “Being bullied as kid for not looking like the rest of the natives while growing up on Haida Gwaii made me feel a sense of sadness for the White Raven, like I understood how it felt. This was an attempt to paint myself . . . me being the White Raven. The red slashes in the background give the idea that all blood is the same colour even if we are not.”
White Raven- Oil paint and sand on wood. 48″ x 39″
In Raven’s Shoes – Red
In Raven’s Shoes – Ballerina
Yeomans artistic drive does not begin and end on canvas or wood, for her it is everywhere and in everything she does. The silver script on the wall of her dressing room reads Life Is Beautiful and this woman embraces this in all things. She created this room from floor to ceiling to indulge in her love of shoes and clothes. She laid the tiles, built the shoe shelves, and even fabricated her stylish ottoman.
Trace Yeomans in her self designed Dressing Room
When asked what things influence her aesthetic sensibility, Yeomnas replies, “It’s more of a spiritual thing for me. I choose things that I actually love. When I paint I find something that moves me because just picking something and painting it has just got nothing in it. Everything I do has something behind it, a meaning of some sort, or some kind of feeling I get from it.“
Perhaps that is why she was able to capture not just the look of the coastal mountains in her Winter Summit painting but the feel as well.
Winter Summit – Oil on canvas. 6 ft x 4 ft
Now as much as Yeomans has an emotional and spiritual connection to the works she produces, she also understands the technical challenges of creating monumental works. When the Vancouver Airport commissioned Yeomans’ Haida Moon painting, it took some serious finesse.
Trace Yeomans used a red cedar Moon mask carved by her artist husband Don for inspiration. “The challenge for me was the shadows. They had to be exaggerated in order to read properly from that distance. I had to consider the lighting that would erase or create other shadows so a great deal of thought had to be put into this piece before I even started to paint. We had to create the material that was used, too. It had to be light, paintable, and mountable.”
Work in progress at the Vancouver International Airport (Left) & Completed Installation (Right)
The Moon hangs high in the rotunda which also houses two 40’ carved totem poles designed and carved by Don Yeomans and painted by Trace.
The creative energy that is constantly flowing through Yeomans finds its foundation in the legacy of Haida artists whom she encountered during her childhood days. Yeomans loves to surround herself with meaningful beauty, which in turn inspires her to create meaningful art.
Article Contributed by:
LaTiesha Fazakas, Owner of Fazakas Gallery