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June 21 – September 6, 2021
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From a rising generation of Indigenous artists in Canada, Meryl McMaster (b. 1988, Ottawa) uses photography to explore identity and its distinct cultural landscapes with extraordinary visual impact. In this body of recent work, she draws on her dual heritage to examine broader questions of being in the world.
McMaster is nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) from Red Pheasant First Nation and a member of the Siksika First Nation (Alberta, Canada) on her father’s side, and Euro-Canadian (British and Dutch) on her mother’s. Fashioning elaborate, sculptural garments and props, her performative self-portraits present journeys that are both actual and imaginative, into the realms of her ancestors.
In As Immense as the Sky (2019), McMaster draws on place-based narratives, memory and self. Captured across ancestral sites in Saskatchewan and early settlements in Ontario and Newfoundland, she interprets, and re-stages patrimonial stories collected from relatives and community knowledge keepers. Acknowledging the personal and social history and effects of colonisation, McMaster contemplates how ancestral stories are written into the landscape by the people who once lived there, as well as those who still do. She presents herself in nature, viewing the environment and seasons as an integral part of the cultural context.
– Written in part by Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2020).