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Meryl McMaster: Confluence

Meryl McMaster, Aphoristic Currents, 2013.

Meryl McMaster

November 3 – December 10, 2016
Doris McCarthy Gallery
University of Toronto Scarborough

Curated by Heather Anderson
Produced by Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa

Meryl McMaster’s potent, alluring photographs explore the fluid domain of identity, and the possibilities of examining and revisioning the self and its representation. This exhibition, produced by Carleton University Art Gallery and curated by Heather Anderson, comprises three bodies of work that collectively trace the evolution of McMaster’s practice. The DMG’s presentation is the second venue in the Canada-wide tour.

Placing her body centrally in front of the camera, Meryl McMaster transforms her appearance, whether by layering photographic images onto her body or through elaborate costumes and props she creates and inhabits as alter egos. An individual of Plains Cree and Euro-Canadian heritage, McMaster explores the dimensions of her own sense of identity, and the complex history of the photographic representation of Indigenous peoples.

The Ancestral series explores the idea of heritage through a combination of portraits and self-portraits. Late 19th century historical images of various Aboriginal men and women are digitally projected onto the faces of the artist and her father. With this series, McMaster inserts historical bodies into the present, bringing together old and new, as a way of looking at the past through the present.

In-Between Worlds explores the mixing and transforming of bi-cultural identities -- Aboriginal and Euro-Canadian -- addressing the idea of liminality, of being betwixt and between cultural identities and histories. In-Between Worlds is a sequence of moments that appear out of the ordinary and can be interpreted as being in a state of suspended belief. Talisman and prop-like sculptures become extensions of the body that suggests a collaging of identities.

Wandering explores the unknown and considers the limitation and possibilities of the self. A red thread or the colour red follows the artist throughout the images, illustrating this indivisible connection to home or the past. At the same time, this series addresses the boundless possibilities of the self, as the dreamlike images enable the viewer to get lost within their own thoughts and imaginations.

The DMG’s presentation of Confluence is generously supported by the Toronto Arts Council and sponsored in part by MBNA.


Thursday, November 3, 1 – 2 pm
Artist’s Talk by Meryl McMaster

Part of the Visiting Artist Lecture Series, co-presented by the Doris McCarthy Gallery and the Department of Arts, Culture & Media, University of Toronto Scarborough

Thursday, November 3, 5 – 8:30 pm
Opening Reception
Curator’s Talk by Heather Anderson
7 pm
Free shuttle bus departs OCAD U (100 McCaul St.) at 6 pm, to return at 9 pm

Wednesday, November 23, 1 – 2 pm
Artist’s Talk by Tanya Mars

The renowned Canadian feminist performance and video artist discusses the role of persona and costuming in her practice, and will relate this to the work of Meryl McMaster.

Saturday, November 26, 12 – 4:30 pm
Contemporary Art Bus Tour

Featuring exhibitions that focus on work by contemporary Indigenous artists, the bus tour will begin at 12 noon at Trinity Square Video (401 Richmond St. W. Suite 121) with a guided tour of wnoondwaamin | we hear them. Bus will depart at 12:30 pm for guided tours of Innovative Spirit: The prints and drawings of Pudlo Pudlat at the Varley Art Gallery and Meryl McMaster: Confluence at the Doris McCarthy Gallery, returning to 401 Richmond by 4:30 pm. To reserve a seat, please contact or call 416.287.7007.

All programming is free and all are welcome.


Meryl McMaster is a Canadian-based artist and a graduate in photography from the Ontario College of Art and Design. Her artistic practice begins with photography, evoking a journey that follows a path of self-discovery. She is interested in exploring questions of how we construct our sense of self through lineage, history, and culture. McMaster is the recipient of the Canon Canada Prize, the Nora E. Vaughan Award, the Design Medal from OCAD, the Vistek Photography Award, Heartline Pictures Award, and SNAP!Stars TD Award.

© University of Toronto Scarborough