By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — Aly McKnight is a Shoshone-Bannock visual artist and will soon take part in the releasing of a new children’s book titled, “The Gift of The Great Buffalo,” featuring her illustration.
“The Gift of The Great Buffalo” is about a Metis-Ojibwe girl that has traveled far with her family for a buffalo hunt, but when there are no buffalo to be found she must help her family find the herd that will enable them to survive the long winter. Publication is set for 2023.
The book author is Caldecott winning “We are the Water Protectors” Carole Lindstrom.
Ever since she could pick up a crayon she’s been drawing and creating characters and stories. It was during her senior year of high school (2010) when she truly developed a talent for illustration and portraiture and she’s been exploring that niche ever since.
She is graduate of Brigham, Young University, where she represented as Miss Indian BYU 2015. Currently she is self-employed with the Art Commissions. She is married to her husband Brockton Saifoloi and they have a two-year-old daughter. They reside in Provo, where she enjoys serving others, beading, water color painting and traveling.
So far, on a professional level, McKnight has worked on a dozen or so design and creative projects for various brands and companies including but not limited to The Wall Street Journal, Land of Nod, Cotton On, Nena & Co., Niio Perkins Designs, Sarjesa Inc., etc.
Now she has the honor of creating the illustrations for a children’s book written by Ojibwe author Carole Lindstrom.
“When this children’s book project was presented to me I knew it was meant for me. I have always wished there was more genuine and positive Indigenous representation throughout literature, art, and media so that our youth could feel seen and positively influenced. This project gives me the opportunity to start filling that gap,” she said.
Being an illustrator comes with challenges, including having creative motivation and inspiration. “Painters, graphic designers, beaders, silver smiths, etc. all of us need inspiration to create and sometimes it’s hard to have that when we are hitting a creative block. But finding what my “energy drainers” and “energy givers” are, has helped me push forward to continue to make art,” she said.
McKnight draws inspiration from many sources, including her Ne’bia (my mama), Tami McKnight, who has always encouraged her to explore any path she wanted in life and provided every opportunity she could to ensure she never felt limited in what she could do. There are also so many friends and family that also influenced her journey as an artist and that includes her grandmother, Emaline George.
“Every time I get to visit with her she shares knowledge and stories with me that guide me throughout my life and my work as an artist. I hope she knows how grateful I am for her teachings and love,” she said.
In the future, through her artwork, she hopes to own and share her story with the world and break the stigma that Indigenous artists can’t be successful.
Her words of advice for young artists interested in pursuing an illustrating profession is, “You can make a living and be successful if you want to. Don’t listen or allow people to tell you otherwise. Making art is beneficial for your mental and emotional health and if you choose to paint, bead, sew, write, sing, or pursue any art form you can 100% make it in this world.”