Natacha Kruger Rewega said that if she had been waiting for a sign, she couldn’t have had a better one.
“When my dad died, it was like ‘what am I waiting for?’” she said last Wednesday, two weeks into her new endeavour to focus full-time on her art. “There’s this weird feeling after, like you’re trying to make normal again, and you can’t. You have to make a new normal, and for me, this is part of it. If not now, never.”
Kruger Rewega quit her job as artist-in-residence at Ecole Boreale and will spend at least the next year painting. After her father, Jack Kruger, died in July, she was catapulted into doing what she loves full-time, despite practical concerns about not holding down a regular job.
“I always put back this decision because of responsibilities,” she said, waving a hand to her house and child. “We’re not rich and I’m really lucky to have a husband who’s willing to go along with this.”
Kruger Rewega’s artwork can be seen all over town, from private homes to murals at Ecole Boreale where she worked as an artist-in-residence, helping with art classes for students as well as adorning the walls with locally-influenced images.
“She’s still going to be involved,” said Ecole Boreal principal Stephane Millette. “Her work helps build the school’s and the students’ identity, as well as school pride. It helps define our place in the community.”
Millette said Kruger Rewega is currently painting a mural on the side of the high school, and that he looks forward to seeing the depiction of local and francophone cultural influences completed.
But Kruger Rewega’s work isn’t confined to the walls of institutions. At the Business, Home, and Leisure Show two weeks ago, she sold all but two of her paintings. She said the outpouring of support for her work has been incredible and that she couldn’t imagine making this career move anywhere else.
“Hay River has been so cool,” she said. “Every show, people come out and talk about the changes they see in my work, and I just love it. I love it.”
Two weeks in, Kruger Rewega said the best thing is the feeling of excitement she has every morning when she wakes up. Although there is some anxiety about finances, she said she is ready to meet the challenge. If she can pull in her half of the household money, she said, she will have succeeded in her own estimation.
“I want to make my dad proud,” she said. “What he did, it was who he was… it was what he loved. What better way to make him proud than to do the same?”
She said that it probably wouldn’t always be easy making ends meet while following her dream, but that she had a hugely supportive family who will stand by her as she does.
“And if it fails, it fails. And so what?” she said. “Who fails when they’re doing something they love?”