Artist Spotlight, Golden Willow
PoCo Inspired: Tell us a bit about yourself
Leanne: Leanne Niziol is from Pehdzeh Ki First Nation, she is Dehcho Dene and Shúhtagot’ine “Mountain Dene”. She was born and raised in the Northwest Territories and currently resides in Treaty 1 territory where she is studying medicine.
PoCo Inspired: When did you first start making jewellery and what was the first piece you ever made?
Leanne: I learned to bead as a young girl then picked it up again 2 years ago when I moved away from home to attend medical school. It helped me feel connected to my culture and people while away from home and combat feeling isolated. The first pair of earrings I made were made using caribou antler.
PoCo Inspired: What inspires your creativity when making a new piece of jewellery?
Leanne: I am inspired by my Dene culture and our traditional floral beadwork, quill work and tufting. My late grandmother is also my inspiration, she was an incredible skilled in hide tanning, beading, and making our traditional clothing. I use natural, ethically harvested, and sustainable materials in my work. I only create when I feel inspired to and at my own pace, it is medicine for me, and I put a lot of good energy into everything I make.
PoCo Inspired: What is the single most important skill you have learned and why?
Leanne: Learning to be more patient with myself, I sometimes get caught up being a perfectionist and have to remind myself that nothing in nature is perfect and this is what makes things beautiful.
PoCo Inspired: What challenges do you face in your work?
Leanne: I see challenges as a positive aspect of creating, it is necessary for growth. I try to be flexible when creating, I will sometimes alter my designs as I go depending how I feel about it and that’s okay.
PoCo Inspired: What is your biggest achievement so far in your business?
Leanne: Self-empowerment and healing. Creating is one way I honor my culture and ancestors, and this has been very empowering for me as an Indigenous woman. This journey has been spiritual, it has brought me even closer to my culture and taught me a lot about myself. I believe that my art is an act of decolonization and resistance because this shows that my Dene culture is very much alive, and we are reclaiming our power- it is medicine.
PoCo Inspired: Where can we find you to shop online or in-person?