Meryl McMaster. Bloodline

Curators : Sarah Milroy, Chief Curator, McMichael Canadian Art Collection and Tarah Hogue, Curator (Indigenous Art), Remai Modern

From February 10 2024 to May 12 2024

About —

Meryl McMaster (b. 1988) is a leading voice in art today, making large-scale photographic self-portraits that explore her mixed Plains Cree/Siksika and Anglo/Dutch ancestry. While some of her earliest works, included here, infuse historical representations of Indigenous peoples with contemporary aspects, others suggest a sort of imaginative repossession of the land, articulated in dreamlike scenarios. Her elaborate costumes, which she crafts herself, embody the blended strains of her ancestry, often echoing historical garments and ceremonial regalia.

McMaster’s more recent works picture the artist on the home territory of her father’s Plains Cree family on Red Pheasant Cree Nation in central Saskatchewan. The newest of these reach for connection across time to the three generations of remarkable Plains Cree and Métis women who came before the artist in the family line. As McMaster puts it, “While we may never know the full truths of our ancestors, we can still hold their memories close to our hearts.” A mother now herself, she continues to delve for the roots of her cultural identity, expanding her practice in this exhibition to include, for the first time, the medium of film.


Biographies —

Meryl McMaster creates dreamlike photographic self-portraiture that crosses timescales, blending moments, lifetimes, generations, and geological eras. Drawing from her nēhiyaw (Plains Cree) and Euro-Canadian ancestry she constructs site-specific scenes with labour-intensive garments. McMaster’s work reinforces the intersections between actual and imagined experiences, in hopes of better understanding oneself, our histories, lineage and a more-than-human world. McMaster’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Urban Shaman, Winnipeg (2021), McCord Steward Museum, Montréal (2021), Canada House, London (2020), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2019) and The Image Centre, Toronto (2019). McMaster was shortlisted for the Rencontres d’Arles New Discovery Award (2019), was the recipient of the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award (2018), REVEAL Indigenous Art Award (2017), and the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship (2013).

Sarah Milroy is the Chief Curator of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg, Ontario, Canada’s only museum devoted exclusively to Canadian and Indigenous art, and co-curator of the exhibition Meryl McMaster: Bloodline. Previously, Milroy served as editor/publisher of Canadian Art magazine and as lead art critic of the Globe and Mail. Her major touring exhibitions include From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia (2010), David Milne: Modern Painting (2018), and Uninvited; Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment (2021), a landmark exhibition of Canadian and Indigenous women artists in the inter-war period. In 2020, Milroy was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

Tarah Hogue is the curator of Indigenous art at Remai Modern, and co-curator of the exhibition Meryl McMaster: Bloodline. Her recent exhibitions include Storied Objects: Métis Art in Relation (2022) with exhibition advisor Sherry Farrell Racette, Adrian Stimson: Maanipokaa’iini (2021), and An apology, a pill, a ritual, a resistance (2021), co-curated with Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh. She has previously held positions at the Vancouver Art Gallery, grunt gallery, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. Raised in Red Deer, AB on the border between Treaty 6 and 7 territories, she is of Métis and white settler ancestry. Hogue is a citizen of the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan and a member of Gabriel Dumont Local #11.

Organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in partnership with Remai Modern. With the support of Hatch, the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and the Superframe Framing Fund.

Images in the banner:

Meryl McMaster, Edge of a Moment, 2017. Giclée print on enhanced matte paper, 152.2 x 239.8 cm. Photo: Romain Guilbault

Meryl McMaster, WE CAN HEAR YOUR HEARTBEAT, 2023. Video, 9 min 48 s. In collaboration with David Hartman. Photo: Romain Guilbault

Meryl McMaster, The Grass Grows Deep, 2022. Giclée print, 101.6 x 152.5 cm. Photo: Romain Guilbault

View from the exhibition Meryl McMaster. Bloodline at the Musée d’art de Joliette. Photo: Romain Guilbault

Meryl McMaster, Every Path Tells, 2022. Giclée print, 101.6 x 152.5 cm. Photo: Romain Guilbault

Meryl McMaster, Wind Play, 2012. Digital chromogenic print on matte paper, 91.4 x 91.4 cm. Courtesy of the artist, Stephen Bulger Gallery, and Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain