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Ancestral 4, 2008

Consanguinity, 2010

Dream Catcher, 2015

Aphoristic Currents, 2013

Meryl McMaster
November 3 - December 10, 2016

Produced by Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa

Lecture by Meryl McMaster: Thursday, November 3, 1 – 2 pm
Part of the Department of Arts, Culture & Media Visiting Artist Speaker Series

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 3, 5 – 8:30 pm
Curator's Talk by Heather Anderson at 7 pm

Free shuttle bus departs OCADU (100 McCaul St) at 6 pm, returning at 8:30 pm, first come, first served

Meryl McMaster’s potent, alluring photographs explore the fluid domain of identity, and the possibilities of examining and revisioning the self and its representation. This exhibition, produced by Carleton University Art Gallery and curated by Heather Anderson, comprises three bodies of work that collectively trace the evolution of McMaster’s practice. The DMG’s presentation is the second venue in the Canada-wide tour.

Placing her body centrally in front of the camera, Meryl McMaster transforms her appearance, whether by layering photographic images onto her body or through elaborate costumes and props she creates and inhabits as alter egos. An individual of Plains Cree and Euro-Canadian heritage, McMaster explores the dimensions of her own sense of identity, and the complex history of the photographic representation of Indigenous peoples.

The Ancestral series explores the idea of heritage through a combination of portraits and self-portraits. Late 19th century historical images of various Aboriginal men and women are digitally projected onto the faces of the artist and her father. With this series, McMaster inserts historial bodies into the present, bringing together old and new, as a way of looking at the past through the present.

In-Between Worlds explores the mixing and transforming of bi-cultural identities -- Aboriginal and Euro-Canadian -- addressing the idea of liminality, of being betwixt and between cultural identities and histories. In-Between Worlds is a sequence of moments that appear out of the ordinary and can be interpreted as being in a state of suspended belief. Talisman and prop-like sculptures become extensions of the body that suggests a collaging of identities.

Wandering explores the unknown and considers the limitation and possibilities of the self. A red thread or colour red follows the artist throughout the images, illustrating this indivisible connection to home or the past. At the same time, his series addresses the boundless possibilities of the self, as the dreamlike images enable the viewer to get lost within their own thoughts and imaginations.


Meryl McMaster is a Canadian-based artist and a graduate in photography from the Ontario College of Art and Design. Her artistic practice begins with photography, evoking a journey that follows a path of self-discovery. She is interested in exploring questions of how we construct our sense of self through lineage, history, and culture. McMaster is the recipient of the Canon Canada Prize, the Nora E. Vaughan Award, the Design Medal from OCAD, the Vistek Photography Award, Heartline Pictures Award, and SNAP!Stars TD Award.

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