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Hannah Claus

January 17, 2018

Hannah Claus is a visual artist of English and Kanien'kehá:ka ancestry whose installations highlight materials and process to engage with time and space through an Indigenous worldview. Her recent exhibitions include hochelaga rock (aceart, Winnipeg; articule, Montreal, and currently on display at Artspace, Peterborough), there are so many stars (OBORO, Montréal), and disparus et oubliés (Languageplus, Alma; Urban Shaman, Winnipeg). Her work is included in various public collections such as the Canada Council Art Bank, the City of Montreal, and Global Affairs Canada. She serves on the board of directors for the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective - Collectif des commissaires autochtones, and recently joined the board of the Conseil des arts de Montréal. Claus lives and works in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, and is a non-resident member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte - Tyendinaga (Ontario).

1. Kanien'keha

The past couple of years I’ve been taking Kanien’kehá/Mohawk language lessons. I love it. It’s such a privilege to have access to this and is something I’d wanted to do to such a long time, but growing up outside of Kanien’kehá:ka communities, I never had the opportunity. My classes are offered through Native Montreal, an urban Indigenous centre in Montreal. There are more online possibilities to learn and hear the language now too. One of my favourites is this Star Wars re-enactment in Kanien’kehá.

2. Balance

Keeping balance is very important to me, and is something I need to be constantly mindful of. I think all of us as artists are aware of this issue, but it becomes even more important as a parent, and with a partner, to sustain and nurture these responsibilities and relationships with others and with our selves. Lately, reading Harry Potter with my son and completing these moccasins for him (though we’ve recently decided to add fur) do the trick.

3. Soup dumplings

I’m a little obsessed with these since discovering Qing Hua Dumpling in Montreal a few years ago. They are different than regular dumplings because they have some liquid inside along with the filling. You have to kind of slurp and eat at the same time. There is lots of variety on the menu (coriander and lamb is my fave) and it’s a good way to fill up on a cold day.

4. Wampum belts

In my artistic practice, I’ve been working with the concepts inherent to wampum belts for quite a few years now. These are mnemonic aids used by the Haudenosaunee (and others) and speak to balance, relationship, and covenant. The word translates to “river made by hand.” If you ever have a chance to hear a presentation by Rick Hill, Darren Bonaparte, Alan Corbière, or Ken Maracle, you should definitely take it. Have a listen to this.

5. Doorknobs, cracks, and tiles

I’m the handy person in my house, and while it often takes a long time to get things done (again, that question about balance), the hows, the whats, the wheres and the whys seem to take up a lot of mental space. Our old apartment has doorknobs that need replacing, ceiling cracks that need covering, and a backyard gate that needs repairing. It feels very satisfying when it’s finally fixed. This doorknob has been falling off since we moved in fifteen years ago (the hole got too big for it and the wood near the latch was rotted), and I finally problem-solved it without having to do major surgery to the door. I’m pleased to use this list as a pretext to share. On to the next one.



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