Meryl McMaster

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Meryl McMaster
Born1988 (age 30–31)
ResidenceOttawa, Ontario
NationalityCanadian, Plains Cree
Alma materOntario College of Art and Design University
Known forPhoto-based work
Notable work
Time's Gravity, 2015

Meryl McMaster is a Canadian photographer whose best-known work explores her Indigenous heritage. McMaster frequently practices self-portraiture to explore themes of representation and identity, and incorporates elements of sculpture and costume design.[1] [2]


Her first major series Ancestral from 2008 "appropriates ethnographic portraits, which she then projects onto her photographic subjects: herself and her father,"[3] noted artist and curator Gerald McMaster.


McMaster trained at the Ontario College of Art and Design University where she won the Ontario College of Art and Design Medal in Photography (2010). Other professional recognition includes the REVEAL Indigenous Art Award [4], the Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists [5], the Canon Canada Prize , the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship [6], and the Doris McCarthy Scholarship. McMaster was long-listed for the 2016 Sobey Art award.[7] In March 2018, she was named one of three inaugural winners of the New Generation Photography Award, which supports the careers of young artists working in lens-based media.[8]


McMaster's work was the subject of a solo survey exhibition Confluence organized by Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) and curated by Heather Anderson.[9][10] The exhibition was on view at CUAG from May 2 - August 28, 2016 and travelled to five other venues including the Richmond Art Gallery (RAG), the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Lethbridge University Art Gallery, and The Rooms.[11] Her work was prominently featured in Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood at the Art Gallery of Ontario during the summer of 2017.[12] Her work has been acquired by various public collections within Canada and the United States, including the Canadian Museum of History, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Eiteljorg Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Group Exhibitions[edit]

  • Embodiment, Museum London, December 23, 2017 - April 1, 2018
  • Native Portraiture: Power and Perception, Tacoma Art Museum, February 10, 2018- February 10, 2019
  • Niigaanikwewag, Art Gallery of Mississauga, February 22 - April 15, 2018
  • Recover All That Is Ours, Campbell River Art Gallery, March 1 - April 25, 2018
  • Identity (Material Self: Performing the Other Within), MOCCA Toronto, part of CONTACT Photography Festival, 2014

Solo Exhibitions[edit]

  • Confluence, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, January 18 - March 15, 2018 [touring exhibition] [13]
  • In Between Worlds, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, September 8 - December 3, 2017 [touring exhibition]
  • The Fifth World, Mendel Art Gallery, April 3 - June 7, 2015
  • Second Self, Latcham Gallery, 2011


McMaster's work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario,the Canadian Museum of History, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Eiteljorg Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Further reading[edit]

  • Walker, Ellyn, The Fifth World, RACAR: revue d'art canadienne / Canadian Art Review Vol. 42, No. 2, Continuities Between Eras Indigenous Art Histories / Continuité entre les époques Histoires des arts autochtones (2017), pp. 124–126.
  • Jurjans, Katrina, "ʻMaterial Self: Performing the Other Withinʼ Speaks of the Liminal Space Between Physical, Mental, and Cultural States", Opus Magazine
  • Meryl McMaster: Confluence, exhibition catalogue with essays by Heather Anderson, Gabrielle Moser, and cheyanne turions, (Ottawa: Carleton University Art Gallery, 2016) ISBN 0770905951, 9780770905958
  • Every. Now. Then. Reframing Nationhood, exhibition catalogue edited by Andrew Hunter, Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2017. ISBN 9781894243957


  1. ^ "Meryl McMaster exhibition confronts history of Indigenous representation". Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  2. ^ Gismondi, Chris J. "Meryl McMaster". Canadian Art. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  3. ^ Walker, Ellyn (2015). "Representing the Self through Ancestry: Meryl McMaster's Ancestral Portraits".
  4. ^ S, Leah; als. "Three Artists Win New Generation Photography Award". Canadian Art. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  5. ^ "Meryl McMaster, Jordan Bennett & Philip Gray Win Inaugural Pachter Prizes". Canadian Art. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  6. ^ "Meet the Fellows | Meryl McMaster (Part IV of V)". Eiteljorg. 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  7. ^ ""Ottawa Visual Artist McMaster on Long List for $50,000 Art Prize"". Ottawa Citizen. April 14, 2016.
  8. ^ "New Generation Photography Award | Scotiabank". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  9. ^ Anderson, Heather; Moser, Gabrielle; turions, cheyanne (2016). Meryl McMaster: Confluence. Carleton University Art Gallery. ISBN 9780770905958.
  10. ^ "Carleton University Art Gallery". Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  11. ^ Carleton University Art Gallery (2016). Meryl McMaster: Confluence. Ottawa: Carleton University Art Gallery. ISBN 9780770905958.
  12. ^ Hunter, Andrew (2017). Every.Now.Then: Reframing Nationhood. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario. ISBN 9781894243957.
  13. ^ Gallery, University of Lethbridge Art. "Meryl McMaster: Confluence January 18 – March 22, 2018Main Gallery, Level 6, Centre for the Arts – University of Lethbridge Art Gallery". Retrieved 2019-03-14.