2020 Grad Show

Danielle Piper

AUArts Grad Show headshot (2)



Through my art practice I make visible what for so long has been made to be invisible; I express by own radical presence as an indigenous woman in this place and as a maker. Through my works I am directly opposing colonial erasures and inviting my viewers to consider the implications with me. To express my identity, I must also express my relationality to the peoples, places and things around me, and this forms the basis of my practice. My work is rooted in traditional craft techniques and articulated using nêhiyawêwin, my ancestral language.


This work was inspired by a flea market outing.
What objects do we encounter around us and where do they come from?
How often do you think about it?
Whose stories get told?
What does that tell us about collective Canadian culture and identity?

More Beadwork

These are varied beaded objects that I have constructed.


This is a selection of wearable artworks created during my time at AuArts.


This is a selection of my final intaglio works completed in 2019. These 5 plates are aligned with the directions and fire at the center. Each landscape is also aligned with an element and features syllabic text.


The pigeon is unliked by many, and is actively discouraged from human centric public spaces, even killed. However, the pigeon has also benefited humans greatly by working as messengers and have lived in harmony with humans for thousands of years. We can learn much if we respect our nonhuman relations. This bag was constructed as a way of honouring the death and thus life of the pigeon and it’s full being, as well as its lasting relationship with humanity. It is a vessel that holds through time. We all live and we all die and we are all together and connected here. Death of one becomes life in feeding the other. Labour is a way of honouring. Holding is a way of honouring. It goes aROUND.

ᑲ ᐋᐧᔨᐯᔮᓯᐠ

The aquatic beings featured are my relations; we take care of each other each day and live side by side. We are all fortunate to have access to the water necessary to live. My own displacement and the displacement of my tank relations strengthens our kinship; do they feel at home? Are they thriving? How much have they had to adapt to changing conditions? Through how many generations?

people of the 4 directions and ᐸᐢᑫᐃᐧᐣ

What languages do you speak? Why?
There is tension in language and the power it has to shape perception. There is a deep struggle of regaining access to our ancestral languages as indigenous peoples. There is misunderstanding of what it all means and how it is we have come to lose what we have; what exactly was taken. Navigating this colonial space while honouring ourselves is a task which requires resistance and persistence. The labour to tying theses hides is meticulous, and the tension of the languages is reflected in the tension of the sinew. Skins are inscribed with words, a reminder of the ways our bodies and relations are affected by language. Knowing our language, we know who we are and where we are going.

Plastic I Collected While Working Minimum Wage

Plastic doesn’t die. The nêhiyawêwin word for crude oil is askîwi-pimiy.

ᐊᐢᑮᐃᐧ ᐱᒥᕀ askîwi-pimiy : coal oil, petroleum
ᐊᐢᑭᕀ askiy : Earth. Also land, country, dirt, world, year.
ᐱᒥᕀ pimiy : oil.

Mâtowitamak; Atikiskisiwak

These places hold personal significance. One is Elbow Falls, the other is the Peace River. How are our memories and languages present in the land and in the world, and how are our identities reflected to us? Language is power and understanding. We start to speak; we start to remember. We can also begin to reimagine and reunderstand or to find fuller ways of expressing ourselves. I’ve reflected on the image and word of each print in a piece of accompanying writing to allow both English language and nêhiyawêwin to be in dialogue with each other and begin to express the depth of colonized experiences.


Syllabics are read according to directionality; this way of organizing them around a center point emphasizes that nature of the symbols. The creation of this work was a practice of spending time with each character found in nêhiyawêwin, learning its lines more intimately. Together with the audio, the chart speaks to a slow process of learning, unlearning, reconnection and labour. The whiteboard makes reference to colonial education systems, and the root of the loss of indigenous languages. The language comes alive through the voice, my slow repetitions of each syllabic pronunciation accompanied later by full words and other sound to create a soundscape which begins to reconnect the language into my daily existence and efforts.