We were thrilled to attend the preview of Niap’s exhibition Piqutiapiit at the McCord Museum in Montreal. The show was the culmination of Niap’s artist-in-residence project at the museum. Her final piece: a stunning, 6 x 4 foot hand-beaded, hand-sewn wall-hanging titled Piqutiapiit, the namesake of the show. The work is an extraordinary testament to the creativity, resilience, and resourcefulness of Inuit women who have kept a practice of sewing for thousands of years.
Currently in its eighth year, the artist-in-residence program at the McCord Museum has been host to renowned Indigenous artists including Kent Monkman and Nadia Myre. The program challenges each artist to create a work in response to the museum’s permanent collection, comprised of more than 16,000 objects made by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures. Niap resonated most with a little girl’s amauti (Inuit women’s parka) from the 1930s. The designs and beading in Piqutiapiit were inspired by the elaborate beadwork in the amauti which is displayed directly across from Niap’s piece in the exhibition. Facing one another, the two works prompt a dialogue about the continuity of sewing and beadwork among generations of Inuit women.
Like the traditional amauti, Piqutiapiit is a complex combination of sewing and beadwork utilizing mostly natural materials. Niap used felt, suede, Finnish leather, cotton, caribou skin, fur, ivory, beads of various kinds, beluga whale teeth, and black oak to create the piece. A fantastic celebration of womanhood, the piece also represents sisterhood. As an amauti often requires the collaboration of more than one woman to create, to assist with beading, sewing, etc., Niap also called upon the help of her own family and friends to complete Piqutiapiit.
The exhibition opens to the public on March 25 and runs until August 21, 2022 at the McCord Museum, 690 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal