Episode 56 with Gerald McMaster

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This week we welcome Gerald McMaster. Dr. McMaster is a leading voice nationally and internationally, with over 40 years of experience in contemporary art, critical theory, museology and Indigenous aesthetics. He is a Tier 1 Canadian Research Chair at OCAD University and Director of Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge. In 2022, Dr. Gerald McMaster has been named by The Canada Council as the recipient of the 2022 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for his Outstanding Contribution. He is Plains Cree from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation and a citizen of the Siksika Nation. His most recent projects include Arctic/Amazon: Networks of Global Indigeneity; Iljuwas Bill Reid: Life and Work - a major Publication from Art Canada Institute; Postcommodity: Time Holds All the Answers – a landmark Exhibition and Publication at Remai Modern; a six-lecture HotDocs series - Beauty and Resilience: Indigenous Art in Canada; and a virtual series Indigenizing the (Art) Museum. Dr. McMaster’s experience as an artist and curator in art and ethnology museums researching and collecting art, as well as producing exhibitions has given him a thorough understanding of transnational/intercultural Indigenous visual knowledge and curatorial practice. His early interests concerned the ways in which culturally sensitive objects were displayed in ethnology museums, as well as the lack of representation of Indigenous artists in art museums. As a practicing artist, he offered a way of staging hitherto decontextualized objects different from the traditional formats favoured by exhibition designers trained in Western traditions; instead, his was an approach that rested on Indigenous epistemologies. These early stages in developing an – Indigenous visuality led him to study concepts in visual, experiential and spatial composition. His exhibition Savage Graces (1992) challenged long held views and played a major role in breaking down conventional barriers around where art should be practiced, while also demonstrating that art is not tied to ethnicity. As a curator, he focused on advancing the intellectual landscape for Indigenous curatorship through the foundational concept of voice. He curated, for example, an exhibition called Indigena (1992) that brought together unfiltered Indigenous voices for the first time. Until then, non-Indigenous scholars had dominated discussions of Indigenous art, history and culture. McMaster made the point that Indigenous artists and writers were more than capable of representing themselves in articulate, eloquent ways. Over the past 20 years, he has continued to refine the idea of voice and Indigenous visual knowledge, leading him to ask: How can Indigenous voices continue providing new perspectives on well-researched subjects such as art, history and anthropology? Throughout his career, his championing of the mainstream value of Indigenous art, among other things, has led to his being chosen to represent Canada at numerous prestigious international events. These include his serving as the Canadian Curator for the 1995 Venice Biennale, Artistic Director of the 2012 Biennale of Sydney, and Curator for the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture. Since 2018, McMaster has also served as Adjunct Curator for Remai Modern. Source: https://www2.ocadu.ca/bio/gerald-mcmaster

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