Stars in our Sky • MNO Citizen Spotlight
Artist Amanda Pierce’s “Un-Earthed” collection grapples
with legacy of Residential School System
Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen Amanda Pierce is engaging art and sculpture as a means to channel the collective feelings of loss and grief arising from recent revelations of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools across Canada.
In her “Un-Earthed” collection, Amanda uses reclaimed and recycled materials to represent the tragic loss of life that occurred at these institutions; with each element symbolizing a child that never returned home.
“While creating this small body of work, I wanted to show the numbers lost,” comments Amanda. Over 6500 unmarked graves have been discovered at the sites of former residential schools since Amanda started her work. “Every bundle, twig, bead, etch mark, nail, rusted piece represents a child lost. I created this series to engage people in conversation and to look closely into the art and see/feel the numbers gone.”
Amanda says the intentional use of reclaimed and recycled materials serves as a commentary on our “throwaway society.” By referencing today’s disposable culture from an Indigenous perspective, the series presents a subtle reminder to the viewer of the traditions practiced by our ancestors, whose ways of life prioritized sustainability and living in harmony with the environment.
Additionally, the sculptures and totems created by the artist represent the grave markers or headstones the children never received. Amanda hopes her work will reinforces how these lives did matter, that they will not be forgotten, and that their story will be shared.
“Not only was the purpose of this body of work to honour the experiences of Indigenous peoples, it was also to provide a learning opportunity for settlers and create a bridge and healing opportunity for Indigenous people and Settlers alike,” says Amanda.
For Amanda, this opportunity to inform and raise awareness through “Un-Earthed” was made possible thanks to funding provided by the MNO’s Métis Culture Based Economic Development Grant, which supports the economic self-determination of Métis individuals in cultural industries and arts and culture related careers.
The grant allowed for Amanda to expand her collection from five to 13 pieces, and her collection has since been exhibited in spaces like La Fab Cultural Center in Chelsea Quebec. Next year, beginning on September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Amanda’s work will be on display for a month, curated by Paul Gilbert.
The MNO extends it congratulations to Amanda Pierce for her thoughtful and inspired collection, and encourages the community to experience the pieces for themselves once exhibited next year. Learn more about Amanda Pierce at: https://www.amandapierceart.com.
About the Métis Culture Based Economic Development Grant
The Métis Culture Based Economic Development Grant supports the economic self-determination of Métis individuals in cultural industries and arts and culture related careers. This Grant is for Métis individuals who are seeking to launch an arts or culture related career.
Gallery of pieces from Amanda’s “Un-earthed” collection: