By Glenda McCarthy
Who says you have to choose between the things you’re passionate about? That’s the view of Kathryn Worthman of Postville, Labrador who spent her summer drawing pictures for a colouring book. Once printed, the book will be used in K-12 Social Studies classrooms across Labrador to give children an accurate idea of what the Labrador lifestyle is like.
Kathryn is a graduate of College of the North Atlantic’s Comprehensive Arts and Science: Transfer program, and while she is currently enrolled at Memorial University’s online courses for a Bachelor of Science, she spent last summer immersed in her artistic side.
“It all started when I was still in junior high,” Kathryn recalls. “My English teacher asked if we could make a new colouring book because the old one was a little outdated and not appealing for children. The art was great, but it didn’t seem like a colouring book, so my English teacher asked me to make one.”
That English teacher was Ruth Jacque.
“I was the Social Studies and Art teacher and we used the Gerard Mitchell colouring books,” Ruth recalls. “We found over the years it became less relevant to Labrador life because it was all set in the past. We were looking for a way for kids to try and find their identities as Labradorians in this century, in the world they live in, and the economic markets they live in. Yes (the new colouring book) is tied into the past, but it’s about forging an identity that is relevant now.”
Fast forward five years and the project is finally coming to fruition.
“I spent this summer thinking about ideas, fleshing it out, and creating the colouring pages, creating pictures (to represent) the lifestyle of Labrador; what we do, the holidays we present, everything,” says Kathryn.
Ruth is now the Community Economic Development and Tourism Officer for the Postville Inuit Community Government. One of the organization’s mandates is to stimulate economic development by identifying funding opportunities and submitting proposals to address the community’s goals.
“Along with things we already know we need, the colouring book is something I felt necessary because Postville needs to take on its own identity and needs to be put on the map,” Ruth says. “We’re trying to raise the profile and get it recognized in positive ways and this colouring book is very much in line with my vision for that.”
Five thousand dollars in funding came through the Nunatsiavut Government’s Department of Health and Social Development, which covered Kathryn’s salary during the eight-week project, as well as the printing of 500 copies of the book.
“They took the idea and said yes right away. Kathryn is very gifted at taking a photograph and bringing it to life and making it seem like you are really in the picture and not just observing,” Ruth says of Kathryn’s artistic talent. “You actually feel like the boat is coming closer to you (in one drawing). She has her own take on things and her own style of creating children and people – she has been able to adapt her style to bring her Labrador children to life.”
Ruth feels the book’s cultural content could also be used for life-skills instruction, in project work, or as a discussion starter.
“It is a colouring book, but it could possibly be promoted for other uses in the curriculum or just for fun. It does have Christmas traditions, the Hudson Bay Company, the archeology dig, the Northern Ranger – all of these kinds of things would make good discussions, good projects or spring boards because some of them are from long ago and some are current.”
Kathryn agrees and says the book will appeal to children and adults alike.
“There are some highly detailed pictures that I know adults would love,” Kathryn says. “There are some pattern pictures that children would love to colour, and there are paper dolls that I know children would love to colour and cut out.”
Kathryn found inspiration all around her, including photos she already had on her cell phone. She also decided to seek out input from people from her hometown of Postville.
“I got some ideas from other people in the community and the paper dolls was one of those ideas. I know I had fun with paper dolls when I was a child. Some of the adults I spoke to used to love paper dolls when they were children too, so I thought it was a great idea. I had some local children give me ideas for what the (paper dolls) could wear – some Labrador clothing and some modern clothing so it would be fun.”
Kathryn felt it important to present a mash-up of Labrador culture and modern cultures, simply to present an updated spin on it.
“It was important because I needed to make sure it appealed to children, but still appealed to adults as well; to make it historically accurate. I think this is a colouring book that represents Labrador lifestyle; what we do, what we celebrate, what we do as activities such as dog sledding, when the Labrador ferry comes in from the communities and north coast, fishing and hunting, food, animals and everything that is a part of our lifestyle.”
With the images for the 24-page colouring book completed and back from the printers, the next step is the official launch at B.L. Morrison All Grade School in Postville.
“We are planning to do a launch at the school and donate some colouring books,” Ruth says. “We will have the children colour and have Kathryn autograph their colouring books, because she grew up here and went to the same school. We’re hoping to get some good comments and reactions to it. I’m very excited about it. I’ve never launched a project like this before.”
While Kathryn recognizes the colouring book is a bit of a departure from what she’s focusing on in her education, she says she loves both equally.
“When I was child I was into drawing anime – those Japanese cartoons. Growing up I developed more of a cartoonish way of drawing. I did have some Art classes in junior high and high school that helped me draw more realistically, which is more appealing to adults, so I added both of those to create a colouring book that’s fun to colour,” Kathryn says.
“I love both art and science equally. I mean, just because I like science, doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep drawing. I still love drawing – it’s just I love science as much as I do creating art.”
Since completing the project this summer, Kathryn was inspired to continue with her artistic side – designing four Christmas cards using her unique style. Both the colouring books and her postcards will be available locally in Postville.