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Dalhai Vela

Region: 
North Slave
Community: 
Yellowknife
Primary Art Type: 

Artist Story

I was always creative, even as a child. I was raised in a family of musicians. My grandad is a chamber orchestra director and my parents both work full time in the orchestra, my dad being a violinist and my mom a cellist. Growing up in my home, there was art everywhere and I was always involved in some type of art form: I danced ballet for almost 10 years, I played piano, and I liked to paint. And even though I stopped painting to focus on my career and my family after graduating high school, art always remained in my life in some way or another.

When I moved to Canada, I didn’t bring any of my art supplies as I had stopped painting for about 10 years at that point. But something about living in Norman Wells inspired me to start again. It is such a beautiful place surrounded by the mountains and the river - I just felt I had to pick up my paintbrushes. I taught myself watercolour to paint the landscapes, and eventually started painting portraits because I wanted pictures of my kids on the walls! I have now been creating watercolour portraits since 2017.  

I started making jewelry in 2015 and currently create a line of handcrafted sterling silver jewelry that incorporates a real snowflake in each piece. Having grown up in a tropical climate, I had never seen snow until I was in my thirties. I always thought that to see the details in a snowflake, you had to look at it through a microscope. But when I actually saw a shimmering snowflake and all its intricate details, I was in awe. I remember calling my mom to tell her right away! That’s when I started the long journey of developing a snowflake preservation technique so I could include them in my jewelry designs which are simple enough to wear all year round, but extra special because of the snowflake. I currently have four different designs for this line and I am planning to add new ones every year.

The beauty of the North is what inspires me, its landscapes, wildlife, culture and people. I like to pay attention to natural elements and shapes for inspiration. I keep a sketchbook of daily drawings for painting and jewelry ideas. The feeling of creating is what I enjoy the most. I love to be able to imagine something and to see it as a finished product. I love the feeling of completion, of having brought my vision to life.

Artist Bio: 

Dalhai moved to Canada from Mexico in 2015. After arriving from Mexico City and spending a year in Calgary, Dalhai and her husband moved to Norman Wells for two years. She quickly learned to adapt to the northern winters by renewing with her love of painting and, eventually, by learning how to incorporate real snow in her sterling silver jewelry. Now residing in Yellowknife with her family, Dalhai is working on patenting the process that she invented in order to preserve snowflakes in her artwork. She is also still painting and has an online shop for her watercolours, and soon will have one for her jewelry as well. Nowadays, most of her work is commissioned portraits.

Last Updated: October 29, 2020

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