Past Now: Meryl McMaster

November 25, 2010 – February 21, 2011

Meryl McMaster, Ancestral 14, 2009, Digital Chromogenic Print

Meryl McMaster
Past Now
November 25, 2010 to February 21, 2011
Gallery 3
Curators: Suzanne Morrissette and Lisa Myers

This thematic double-solo exhibition features photography by Meryl mcMaster (Toronto) and painted wood carvings by Luke Parnell (Vancouver). These rising Aboriginal artists address the distances to historical representations of and by indigenous people, embodying past artistic motifs in living contemporary forms.

As the curators write, “The mantle of colonialism in North America propelled photographers and artists of past centuries to pictorially ‘preserve’ indigenous cultures. Stubborn, ruinous stereotypes arose from such representations and issues surrounding their perpetuation inevitably raised questions with respect to Aboriginal agency. Two emerging Aboriginal artists – Meryl McMaster and Luke Parnell – engage their work in critical conversations with the past. From distinct perspectives, they question the life of historical images today. Through subtle variations of historical image an iconography, both exemplify past now as creative credo.

Meryl McMaster constructs images using reproductions of historical photographs and paintings to summon the sustained presence of ancestors and to redirect the function of such images. Her photographic vignettes employ props, found objects and talismans to illuminate a self-reflective passage. Through portraiture, McMaster challenges temporal boundaries. Definitive chapters of history blur and dissolve into ambiguous, residual traces. Responding both to established conventions of public display and the cotemporary Aboriginal reclamation of scholarship.

A brochure with essays by the guest curators accompanies the exhibition, published by the MacLarenArtCentre. The brochure is now out of print, however it is available through the website (click on the attachment below).

Exhibit Explores Artist’s Heritage, article by Leigh Blenkhorn