Tannis Nielsen is a Métis Woman (of Sohto and Danish descent,) with twenty years of professional experience in the arts, cultural and community sectors, and ten years teaching practice at the post-secondary level. Tannis holds a Masters in Visual Studies Degree (M.V.S.) from the University of Toronto, an Art and Art History-Specialist Degree from U of T, as well as a Diploma in Art and Art History from Sheridan College, in Oakville, Ontario.
Tannis’s research interests include: anti-colonial/anti-capitalist theory, Indigenous decolonization methodologies, Indigenous pedagogies/oral histories, Indigenous arts activism(s), Indigenous governance/natural law(s), and the relative investigations between Indigenous science and quantum physics.
As a visual artist Tannis’s practice includes: drawing, painting, new media installation, sculpture and performance. Since 2007 her media works have investigated the relationship between Indigenous science and quantum physics. Her emergence into this field was inspired by the seemingly random chaotic behavior of electromagnetic energy. In creating “static” (a large scale video projection) Tannis utilized electro magnetic energy as the main medium of creation, in a work that articulated her cosmological understanding of Creation. Static continues to be the main impetus for her current practice where she is in the final stages of developing a six-channel video installation titled “nihtâwikiwin” which translates directly to “the act of being born.”
In 2006, Tannis’s dissertation asserted the need for localized Indigenous contexts to be inserted accurately within the structures of the academy by visually illustrating the negative consequence of colonial trauma on Indigenous culture/land/language, familial relationships, and memory. Her text titled “Not Forgotten,” emphasized this positioning by repudiating the need of utilizing the constraints of an English/imperialist punctuation and capitalization in text. The focus of this text has led to a number of select invitational presentations which include lectures titled; “Deconstructing the Doctrine(s) of Discovery” for the Law Union of Ontario, “Global Cities – Indigenous Histories” at York University, “Sourcing Indigenous Ways of Knowing,” at McMaster University and “Academic Capitalism, Apartheid and Insurgency” at the Toronto Free Gallery
Tannis currently teaches at OCADU and has served on the Aboriginal Engagement Committee at UBC-O and has sat as Advisor to the Equity and Diversity Committee at OCAD-U, the Toronto District School Board, and is the past President of The Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts (A.N.D.P.V.A.), a national Native arts organization in service since 1972. She was also a member of the Toronto Native Community History Project and has assisted in organizing the last three annual “Indigenous Sovereignty Week” events in the city of Toronto. In 2012, Tannis became active on the Idle No More-Toronto organizing committee and continues to contribute towards an anti-colonial discourse in canada, from her current location in Toronto On.