Dramatic self-portraits by Cree artist seek to reclaim colonial images of Indigenous peoples
Meryl McMaster, 31, has become 'a really, really important Canadian artist really quickly'
It's a striking collection of contemporary photography by an up-and-coming Canadian artist that explores questions of identity, hybridity and land through its use of Indigenous and colonial imagery.
Canadian artist Meryl McMaster's exhibition Confluence has arrived in Calgary, the last stop on its cross-country tour.
The exhibition is comprised of arresting self-portraits with dramatic costuming and makeup, grouped into three bodies of work that were created between 2008 and 2015.
"A big part of Meryl's practice, especially in the first body of work here, is reclaiming colonial images of Indigenous people," said Sarah Todd, curator at the Glenbow Museum.
McMaster, an Ontario-based artist, is of mixed Plains Cree, British and Dutch heritage. Though her work is described as a personal exploration of her own ancestry, McMaster's photographs speak to broad, universal themes that are accessible to all, Todd said.
"These bodies of works are really working through different ideas of being in-between worlds, sort of reconciling her European settler colonial past and also her Indigenous heritage as well, and learning a lot about her art practice," Todd said.
Her artwork will be on display at the Glenbow Museum until June 2. Keep scrolling for a glimpse of what's on offer.
Many of McMaster's photographs are set in winter landscapes. 'She really likes that sort of urgency of the snowy environment. It makes for a really dramatic photo,' says Todd.
'The images are so visually stunning. She builds all different kinds of props, all different kinds of incredibly fantastical photographic scenes that they do become really relatable,' Todd says.
'She's using colonial photography and projecting it onto her own face. That's kind of a metaphor for her entire project here,' says Todd.
McMaster's love of travel and the outdoors informs much of her photography, says Todd.
The 31-year-old artist graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in 2008.
'She became a really, really important Canadian artist really quickly,' Todd says.
With files from Lyssia Baldini