Hannah Claus

Lesson: Representing Places & Stories as Art

“The water song piece that I made for the Eiteljorg is based on rivers and songs from those rivers. This one in particular, for the Miami. Rivers are just this element that are the connecting force between communities. It’s the body of water that’s always flowing. It’s always in movement.” – Hannah Claus

Themes: Continuation & Innovation
Learning Objective: Students will learn about artist Hannah Claus’ piece, water song: peemitanaahkwahki sakaahkweelo, then will create their own installation art.

Background Information

“For the Myaamia, for the Miami, we consider ourselves a people of rivers. Rivers have always sat at the center of our homelands, our lives have always been focused on rivers.” – George Ironstrack (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma)

Hannah Claus, who is a First Nations artist from Canada, created this sculptural hanging titled water song: peemitanaahkwahki sakaahkweelo. Hannah’s piece is inspired by and directly references stories, songs and places of importance to the Miami peoples, whose traditional homelands include what is known today as Indiana.

Take a closer look at Hannah’s installation piece. Hannah took photos of the riverscape and printed those photos onto round acetate disks. Then, she strung the disks onto long strands of cotton sewing thread in a pattern that represents visualized soundwaves. If you look closely, you can see the green leaves of the tree canopy, and the brown murky water of the river. Near the top, you might notice the blue sky.

Have you ever visited a river? If so, what did it look like? Was the water clear and blue, murky brown or somewhere in between? Did the water rush past or was it moving so slowly you could hardly tell it was moving? What did you notice about the landscape?



Think about a place that is important to you – it could be a natural or physical place like a lake, garden, or your bedroom, or it could be a metaphorical place like a good book or the company of your loved ones. On the template, draw pictures or symbols that represent that place. Cut out the circles, decorate the backs if you want, punch a hole, and hang each one from a piece of yarn, string or fishing line. Then, hang each string from a long stick or coat hanger. You’ve just created your own installation art!


Words you need to know


Doing something in the same way over time.


Creating something new or finding a new way of doing something.


A work of art that is three-dimensional.

Related to sculpture: A type of three-dimensional art often made by carving wood or marble, molding clay or plastic, bending and welding metal, or combining various materials.


The landscape found along a river.

Installation art

This is a type of art that often combines a variety of materials and is designed for a specific space; it often tells a story or explores a topic.