Stitching Language: Sounding Voice in the Art Practice of Vanessa Dion Fletcher

Author: Stephanie Springgay

This paper engages with the artistic practice and work of Vanessa Dion Fletcher (Potawatomi and Lenapé) from my perspective as a non-Indigenous academic and curator. Dion Fletcher and I have worked together over the past several years through discussions about her work, studio visits, and various events. In her art practice, Dion Fletcher uses porcupine quills and menstrual blood to inquire into a range of issues and concepts including Indigenous language revitalization, feminist Indigenous corporeality, Land as pedagogy, decolonization, and neurodiversity. In particular her work confronts the ways that Indigeneity, the queer and gendered body, and disability are rendered expendable. In this paper I engage with Dylan Robinson’s “sovereign sense”: a transcorporeal mode of perception that is affective, land-based, and formed through relations between human and non-humans. Dion Fletcher’s work makes palpable this sense of sovereignty through its unruly and mutating feltness. Further, her work makes visible feminist Indigenous artistic acts of resurgence alongside the frictions at the intersections of settler colonialism and disability. Following Karyn Recollet, I contend that Dion Fletcher’s work activates an Indigenous affective experience of futurity and creative intimacy that in turn imagines disability and Indigeneity as sites through which new pedagogical relations can be formed.