pēyakwan kīsik kakwāyaki-ispīhcāw / As Immense as the Sky
Vitrual Gallery Here
Winnipeg Free Press article about the show
As Immense as the Sky (2019)
The way we experience the passing of time shapes our relationship to and understanding of our immediate world. My awareness of time comes from an overlapping of two distinct approaches – one is that of a linear path that extends in both directions from the present, and another one that is recurrent and cyclical. This intersection of world views has been part of my upbringing, a result of being born into a family both Western and Indigenous.
Contemplating time and the countless cycles of life that have recurred around the ancient mistassini (monoliths), sputinas (buttes), wiyacahk (canyons) and ayeakow awacha (dunes) of Turtle Island led to the development of As Immense as the Sky. These thoughts left me in a state of wonderment, but also stirred within me a fearful apprehension of our permanent and collective impact upon our beautiful world.
To confront this fear, I sought wisdom in the places of ancestral life, listening to the truths of relatives, Elders, friends and peoples who have traversed this land before me. At the social, cultural and environmental contact zones of my Indigenous and European ancestors I set out to study and collect their knowledge and to animate and re-tell it in a personally transformative process through photography.
Many places I visited hold particular meaning for my direct ancestors as they are sites of significant moments in their lives; I was drawn to the sites of ancient stories across central and southern Saskatchewan and to the shores of early settlement in Ontario and Newfoundland. My aim was to reconnect with those who came before me as a way of introducing myself to the land on which they lived.
I came to see these landscapes as immense time capsules of buried knowledge. As Immense as the Sky is about walking these ancient paths, experiencing the diversity of panoramas, and learning about my ancestors’ wisdom.
The resulting images are a blend and collapse of time into the present. The stories of kayas (long ago) and the foreboding whispers of the future intertwine my body with the land, in the hope that we all maintain a long-term ecological equilibrium with the world around us.
Meryl McMaster – Bio
Meryl McMaster was born and is currently based in Ottawa, Canada. Her family is from Red Pheasant First Nations in Saskatchewan and she is a member of the Siksika First Nation in Alberta. She earned a BFA in Photography from OCAD University in Toronto (2010). Known for her large-format self-portraits that have a distinct performative quality, she explores questions of self through land, lineage, history, and culture, with specific reference to her mixed Plains Cree European ancestry. McMaster’s work has been included in solo and group exhibitions throughout Canada and abroad, including the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, ON), Ryerson Image Centre (Toronto, ON), Australian Centre for Photography (Sydney, AUS), Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian (New York, NY), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, ON), Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (Santa Fe, NM), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal, QC), and the Ikon Gallery (Birmingham, UK). Her awards include the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award (2018), REVEAL Indigenous Art Award (2017), Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow Award (2013), Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists (2012), Canon Canada Prize (2010), OCAD U Medal (2010) and was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Discovery Award (2019) and longlisted for the 2016 Sobey Art Award. Her work is widely represented in collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Eiteljorg Museum, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum London, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Ottawa Art Gallery, Canadian Museum of History, National Museum of American Indian.
Thank you to the School of Art for contributing to this project!
Urban Shaman: Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery acknowledges the support, throughout the year, of our friends, volunteers, community and all our relations, NCI FM, CAHRD, Winnipeg Foundation, Manitoba Heritage, the Winnipeg Arts Council, the Manitoba Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and University of Manitoba School of Art. ~Miigwetch/ Hai Hai/ Ekosi / Merci/ Thank you