Sculptural photographer, Meryl McMaster explores the construction of selfhood, conjoining hybrid inheritances – First Nations Cree, European, female – with the immediacy of the lived body animated by the natural world. For McMaster, identity and subjectivity are never complete, always in process and formed and re-formed from within, inseparable from without. In the series Wanderings and In Between Worlds, she is garmented as much by heritage and imagination – manifest as sculptural constructions ranging from abstractions to the shamanic grafting of animals – as by the ever-changeful sky and snow and waters. The morphological signs of water and snow are central to the landscape of Ottawa Canada where she lives. And in Ancestral the snowstorm appears to move within: McMaster whites-out identity to create a receptive screen onto which is projected the faces of ancestors, whether human or animal. Employing near-invisibility to create heightened presence, she subverts the colonial gaze. Employing projection, she inverts its directionality: identity appears to seep outwards from inside, fluid and ungraspable, defying the fixed boundaries of historical chronology.
Awards and scholarships include the Canon Canada Prize, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the Doris McCarthy Scholarship, the OCAD U Medal, and the Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists. McMaster’s work has exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, the Eiteljorg Museum, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Mendel Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and has been acquired by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Eiteljorg Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Ottawa Art Gallery and the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Art Collection.
Recent achievements include winning Scotiabank’s New Generation Photography Award in 2018, and her solo exhibition Confluence which toured Canada from 2016-2019. In 2017 she was one of three artists to participate in the major exhibition Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. McMaster first exhibited in the UK at The Baldwin Gallery’s group show The Sublunary World alongside David Ellingsen and Royal Academician Tim Shaw. Her first UK solo exhibition will open at The Ikon, Birmingham in December 2019.
A Selection of available work