Anishinabek artist from Whitefish River First Nation, Birch Island, ON. Stephanie has been an Indigenous self-taught artist for 10 years creating dreamcatchers and beaded crafts. She studied at the University of Guelph earning a degree in psychology and family studies.
Stephanie continues to be involved in the Indigenous communities of the Guelph area and advocating for Indigenous families. With her education background and community involvement, Stephanie is able to create art with meanings that are more than what meets the eye.
"I started to create dreamcatchers about 10 years ago as a self-taught artist. My aunt and owner of Hides in Hand, Teresa, was my main inspiration for starting to experiment as an Indigenous artist. Anything she could supply me was given before I even asked, and her support was truly unconditional."
"With help from my aunt, I created this dreamcatcher with the medicine wheel colours because I wanted to incorporate a sense of equality and well-being in my work. Because I am an artist by leather, feathers and sinew, I would not have been able to transfer my art onto Hides in Hand products without my partner, Chanel. Chanel is a graduate of the University of Guelph’s Studio Art program with a practice in oil painting, printmaking and drawing. Chanel was able to digitize my dreamcatcher to bring it to life as an embroidered piece."
"I can’t think of a better way to honour my art then to collaborate with my aunt and partner. This piece really came from an immense amount of love for my family, and I am beyond grateful to now have the opportunity to share it with all of you."
The Ojibwe believe that our nights are full of both good and bad dreams. When a dreamcatcher is hung above the place where one sleeps, the Ojibwe believe that the dreamcatcher moves freely in the night air catching dreams as they drift by. Good dreams are said to know their way through the dreamcatcher, using the small hole in the middle to pass by. Bad dreams are said to be caught in the webbing, as they do not know their way, so they can be destroyed by the morning light.
The medicine wheel is also something that has a lot of meaning in my life and was a teaching that I received while I was visiting my pow wow on reserve. An elder in the community explained to me as she pointed to the medicine wheel saying, “red, yellow, black, white… we are all precious in his sight”. The elder shared that the creator sees everyone as equals no matter who you are, where you came from or what you look like. That teaching is something I hold very dear to my heart and in my core belief system.
As I grew up, I learned how versatile the medicine wheel is and how it could mean something different for everyone. Some people interpret the medicine wheel as the four directions, the four seasons of the year, the four elements of nature and even the four ceremonial medicines. Another interpretation of the medicine wheel that I live by is the four aspects of life and well-being: spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual. To me, the medicine wheel is a teaching that reminds me to continue to advocate for equality and to be mindful of my own well-being in the process of the tough work we do as a community.