Meryl McMaster

In-Between Worlds

In her photographs, Meryl McMaster portrays herself in an imaginary world where she explores the challenging feelings that arise from her pluralistic heritage: Cree from the Great Plains, member of the Siksika nation, Canadian and European. Borrowing from sculpture and from performance, she integrates costumes and accessories as talismans.Her fantastical universe evokes childhood, the animal kingdom and myths related to indigenous culture.

In the Wanderings and In-Between Worlds series, McMaster employs a plethora of props – clothes, jewellery, talismans – which become extensions of the body and lead to a telescoping of identities. She  positions herself in the middle of nature, considering the landscapes and the seasons as part of a cultural context in which myth and narration come together. These different images, which are so many portraits, may be interpreted as parables.

Meryl McMaster

Meryl McMaster, Anima from the « In-Between Worlds »
series, 2012, chromogenic print. Courtesy of the artist.

“For this fall, I wanted to turn our attention to several indigenous women artists, with a program under the title Artist. Woman. Indigenous. The season begins with the captivating work of Meryl McMaster, at the intersection of photography, dance and performance. We follow the path of Not all those who wander are lost (J.R.R. Tolkien). In nomadic visions from history, voyages of initiation, a return to the earth and a manifesto for self-determination, her poetic self-portraits are stunning in their beauty,” said Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the MMFA.

“By means of photography and performance Meryl McMaster explores the identity of First Nations and their cultural context. Examining her own heritage – Indigenous and Euro-Canadian – through  portraiture and self-portraiture, she surveys self-construction through lineage, history, and culture,” explained Ami Barak, guest curator of the 15th edition of MOMENTA.

“This is the first time the two series will be interwoven in the same exhibition. This curatorial decision reflects the link the photographer makes between these two personal corpora as points of entry not just to her individual identity, but to her storytelling and history,” said Diane Charbonneau, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Photography at the MMFA.

Meryl McMaster (born in 1988) is a Canadian artist who lives and works in Ottawa. Through portrait and self-portrait photography practices, she explores self-construction through lineage, history, and culture. Her work is presented throughout Canada and the United States.

For more information and exhibit hours: or 514-285-2000

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