Niap (Nancy Saunders) is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist whose work has been collected by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Avataq Cultural Institute among others. Based in Montreal, QC, the artist divides her time between the city and her home community of Kuujjuaq, Nunavik—a place that continues to deeply influence her work.
Niap's practice shifts between carving, textiles, paintings and more. Through each medium, she explores and investigates her identity as an Inuk woman. “I have been learning more about and finding this new pride in my culture,” she explains, “which has allowed me to create depth in my work” . For a mural at the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Canada Goose Arctic Gallery titled Ilurqusivut (Our ways), Niap produced an anamorphosis effect, creating the impression of a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional surface. Included in the large-scale scene is a ringed seal, caribou, Canada geese and a hunter wearing traditional sealskin clothing. Representations of ice floes, tattoos and parka trim are also featured, while mountain-avens flowers flank the images .
Niap is an advocate for her community and culture. As a teenager she walked from Duncan, BC to Ottawa, ON, to raise awareness for Indigenous youth suicide prevention . Also a throat singer, she has performed at several public events including a 2014 ceremony in Quebec that recognized throat singing as a form of intangible heritage under the Cultural Heritage Act .
In November 2015, Niap participated in her first group exhibition Ullumimut − Between Tradition and Innovation at Montreal’s McClure Gallery . In 2016, she completed a residency at École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris and worked with Adventure Canada as an artist-in-residence. The following year, Niap received the Inuit Art Foundation’s Virginia J. Watt Scholarship. Her installation ᑲᑕᔾᔭᐅᓯᕙᓪᓛᑦKatajjausivallaat, le rythme bercé (2018), which was exhibited at OBORO Gallery in Montreal, QC, was later acquired by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in August 2018.
Niap's artist project inuuvugut for Art Toronto 2018 responded to issues surrounding cultural identity and heritage. While photographing her subjects, she asked: what does it mean to be Inuk? The resulting images and their responses signal the complexities inherent in this question and provide a nuanced, multifaceted view of community and culture. In 2019, her first solo exhibition Ivalu was held at Feheley Fine Arts in Toronto, ON, and focused on traditional tattooing practices.
2018: ᑲᑕᔾᔭᐅᓯᕙᓪᓛᑦ Katajjausivallaat, le rythme bercé (2018) was acquired by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It is their first installation piece by an Inuk artist.
2017: Niap was elected to create a mural for the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
2005: Niap walked across Canada to raise awareness for Indigenous youth suicide prevention.