Meryl McMaster

Mar 4 - Apr 8, 2016

Wanderings is a new body of work by the Ottawa-based artist Meryl McMaster that represents an aesthetic and conceptual progression in the artist’s practice, which draws in equal parts from sculpture, performance, and photography. McMaster’s work functions as an evolving exploration of the artist’s own relationship to cultural identity within the larger framework of historical and contemporary identity politics. As a person with both Indigenous and European familial lineages, her father is Plains Cree, her mother is British and Dutch, McMaster treats identity subjectively, as something that is never complete, always in process, but invariably shaped by both internal and external factors and actions.

While prior work by McMaster has established her occupation of two contrasting, but interrelated worlds, the images in Wanderings consider the personal journey McMaster has undertaken between and within these worlds. Wanderings is the culmination of several narratives McMaster has explored previously, and is very much an aesthetic and conceptual continuation of In-Between Worlds, a series of images the artist produced between 2010 and 2015. The collection represents a mixing and transforming of the artist’s bi-cultural identities. For McMaster, the dualities of different identities, which are steeped in the colonial history of interactions between First Nations and European settlers, are at the core of this new work. But, rather than dwell within the negative or confining spaces of liminality, the work in Wanderings allow for an oscillation between identities, and put forward an assertion that for Indigenous people, identity has never been static.

About Meryl
Meryl McMaster (Plains Cree member of the Siksika Nation, British and Dutch) is an Ontario- based artist and a BFA graduate from OCAD University, Toronto. She is the recipient of the Charles Pachter Prize, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the Canon Canada Prize and the OCAD Medal. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions throughout Canada and the United States and has been acquired by various public collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Eiteljorg Museum and the Donovan Collection.