About Me: Dawn Piasta

I started sewing when I was eight years old. Mom gave me a book and the supplies I would need; I never looked back. I made my own clothing (that I actually wore) when I was in grade eight. Later, in my teens to meet boys in high school I offered to hem their jeans. I started quilting in 1995. For me, quilting is a great way to express my feelings for the things I love.

I was once asked who my quilting hero is, without a doubt it is my great-grandmother. As a young woman of 17 she raised four of her siblings. Twice widowed, she raised ten of her own children; all while operating a farm. As a young girl, I remember being amazed by her energy, and the fact that she hand-made a quilt for every one of her children and grandchildren. She crocheted an afghan for each of her great-grandchildren. This made a huge impression on me. She always made it look so easy. I do not recall every seeing her without a sewing or crochet needle in her hand. I want to leave a legacy like she did.

I was exposed to the great artists at a very early age. Mom used to have art classes during elementary school lunch breaks. She taught me that a good foundation in design was important, rewarding and fun. While other kids took piano lessons, I was enrolled into drawing classes with a local artist. I vaguely recall visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts with my grandfather who dabbled in the arts. I was as enchanted by Diego Riviera, VanGogh & Monet then and even more so now that I understand their significance. I believe that my passion for textiles, design and colour have always been strong because of this connection.

I have been happily married to Tom for over 35 years. We met in my hometown of Rochester, Michigan. We moved to a rural acreage in a small-town rural Manitoba, Canada a few years after we were married. It was a big change for a city girl to move to a small town but we flourished. Together we raised two sons and have a beautiful daughter-in-law that we share our life and passion for the outdoors and travel.

My family are strong supporters of my quilting! It’s because of their encouragement that I step outside the box and explore my creativity. My leap into art quilting came shortly after I made my first kitted art quilt. I proudly showed it to my husband and sons; my youngest expressed his respect for a job well done however, he provided a bit of motivation that has stuck with me until today. “Mom” he said “that’s a nice quilt but it seems to me that anyone who uses that pattern will get the same results. You can draw; you should create your own designs”. I agreed and never looked back. I am not going to fool you though; I have bought hundreds of books and patterns over the years. But his wisdom still rings in my ear after almost 25 years.

Since that time, I have had many defining moments in my quilting career. I am actively involved in local, provincial & federal textile and quilting organizations as well as several global advocacy programs & projects. In August of 2019 I took early retirement from my full-time government job so that I could delve fully into the quilting world and broaden my teaching exposures. I participated in the inaugural Threads of Success Conference that took place during the 2019 International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas. It was here that my world was rocked upside down and I was ready to make my quilting and teaching dreams come true.

I am a lifelong learner and passionate motivational teacher. When I work with students, I don’t stand back and lecture about what they should be doing; as everyone has a unique perspective and that needs to be nurtured. Sometimes I feel like a cheerleader cheering each student on to a new victory or boosting morale and confidence levels.

My brain is always racing as I am planning my next project. Thank goodness for deadlines; they keep the UFO piles manageable. I compare myself to a squirrel sometimes as I race from one project or technique to another. But low and behold I am proud to say a finished a project always develops.

My eldest son gave me a book that motivates me through the highs and lows of life and of project development. “Art & Fear – Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” by David Bayles & Ted Orland. The book explores the way art gets made and often the reasons it doesn’t get made. The book is about committing my future to my own hands, placing free-will above destiny, choice above chance. The authors encourage me to find my own work; I hope to share the lessons I have learned with my students.

Another story that haunts me is the one titled “Mermaids” by Robert Fulghum published in his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. My interpretation of this sweet story revolves around uniqueness; whereas we are all unique in our own special way and when we full embrace what we are, who we are and how we think as okay we will find satisfaction and contentment. I am a mermaid; I dream in colour and I’m okay with that.

The story continues …

Dawn Piasta is a fibre artist living in Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada.

She is inspired by playfulness and uses her artistry to awaken the memory of special moments in her life. Dawn’s subject matter reflects her unique vision of the world in which she lives; passionate, energetic and spirited. Utilizing a variety of artist techniques and textiles Dawn’s quilts are an extension of her life experiences. A vacation, a song, a person, a flower or simply a feeling. Her quilt artistry tells the stories.

Dawn’s art begins with personal photographs. Her artistic style is eclectic and constantly changing.

Much like the dragonfly, where in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self-realization; Dawn’s artistry channels her mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.