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Art that makes cents

Dawn Oman sees her work minted on a Canadian coin

Kathleen Lippa
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 30/03) - Dawn Oman has done a piece of art you can really take to the bank.

The Yellowknife-based commercial artist's piece called Rising Star will decorate a new sterling silver Canadian 50 cent coin.

The image is an angel in a Northern landscape looking skyward.

Oman, who has never had her work featured on a coin before, is thrilled with the news.

"It's one of those things you like to see on your resume. It's very prestigious," said Oman, sitting in her colourful Yellowknife studio on Tuesday, smiling broadly.

"I think they liked the simplicity, the Northern feeling to it."

A full-colour piece by Oman called Earth Angel inspired the design.

The funny thing for Oman is that she wasn't even going to enter that image in the contest.

She already had three designs picked out, but says she "threw in" Rising Star at the last minute.

The Royal Canadian Mint, in conjunction with organizers of the Great Northern Arts Festival, made the final decision on the winning design.

"I wasn't going to submit this one, but I did and it was the winner!" she said, clearly pleased.

The Mint recently sent Oman a coin, but she couldn't show it off on Tuesday because she had already given it away to her dad for his 80th birthday.

The coins will be available through Canada Post outlets.

The limited-edition coin was released on May 16.

It all started with a phone call "out of the blue" from the Royal Canadian Mint asking Oman if she'd like to participate in a contest to design the 50 cent coin in honour of the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik.

Oman said she was truly honoured even to be asked.

But when she found out who the other artists in the contest were -- including Germaine Arnaktauyok, one of her favourite artists and designer of the $2 coin in honour of Nunavut -- she was a bit overwhelmed.

Now she's just as wowed seeing her work in sterling silver.

Oman will attend the Great Northern Arts Festival July 11-21, where the coin will be unveiled.