Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montreal
Meryl McMaster belongs to a generation of Indigenous artists who, by means of photography and a performative approach, explore First Nations' identity and their cultural horizon. Her recent bodies of work have explored the liminality of being betwixt her Indigenous (Plains Cree) and European (British/Dutch) cultures and the conflict found at the intersection of self-exploration and heritage.
Her distinct approach to photographic portraiture and self-portraiture incorporates the spontaneity of photography, the manual production of objects or sculptural garments that she creates in her studio and performance. In her works, these media form a mosaic that illustrates a journey of self-discovery as she explores how we construct our sense of self through lineage, history and culture. The works at Volta are a selection of photographs from two bodies of work In-Between Worlds and Wanderings.
In-Between Worlds explores her experience of belonging to mixed-cultural heritages. In these images, she mixes and transforms her ancestral heritage while inserting her own body into visual spaces that reflected both the inspiration she experiences from remote, contemplative experiences in the Canadian wilderness as well as the concept of being ‘betwixt’.
Wanderings is a journey into the unknown and a contemplation on the limitations and possibilities of the self. Within this series, dreamlike experiences are linked by a red thread connecting her to the past. The past both inspires and restricts her wandering path; it is the past that informs us of who we are and who we might become. The wandering soul in each image is a metaphor for a life in which we discover things both new and different that contribute to experiences that may not immediately make sense, but eventually become clearer as we grow older.
Meryl McMaster (b. 1988) belongs to a generation of Indigenous artists who, by means of photography and a performative approach, explore First Nations' identity and their cultural horizon. Recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation's REVEAL Indigenous Art Award, Ottawa (2017) and the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, Indianapolis (2013), she was a finalist for the Sobey Art Award in 2016. Several museums have presented solo exhibitions of her work notably the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2017, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts à Santa Fe in 2016 and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York in 2015.