Produced by Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa
An individual of mixed 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. Three bodies of work in Confluence comprise arresting self-portraits that counter the stereotypical ways that Indigenous peoples have been, and sometimes still are, represented within a colonial framework, principally as objects rather than as subjects of the gaze.
Image: Meryl McMaster, Dream Catcher, Ink jet print, edition 2 of 2 AP, 2015. Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain.
Gathering close to 100 artworks, images and objects from across The Rooms art gallery, archives and museum collections, this exhibition asks questions about how histories are told and re-told through images. How do these images define our understanding of this place? How does the past we imagine affect how we move into the future?
Taking place over two summers, this is the first of a ground-breaking look at the art history and iconography of Newfoundland and Labrador, starting with the period before Confederation in 1949. The exhibition places historical works in conversation with works by contemporary artists who reference real and imagined histories.
Anonymous, Artist sketching the St. John’s Harbour and skyline, photograph, c. 1910
photo credit: The Rooms
With this new body of work, St. John’s artist Rhonda Pelley reads the past, present, and future of Newfoundland and Labrador with tarot cards collaged from photographs of the province’s politicians, historical events, buildings, and other aspects. Rather than overt commentary, the cards allow reflection upon the viewer’s ideas of the negative and positive aspects of this province as interpreted through its most recognizable imagery. By creating an opportunity to reflect upon biases, Pelley invites the viewer to thoughtfully guide the outcome of the province.
Rhonda Pelley, The Emperor, digital collage, 2018
Trained as a printmaker, St. John’s artist Hazel Eckert collects found images from various sources, and explores how they alter over time through multiple reproductions such as repeated photocopies. Modified by chance and the characteristics of available technology, the images take on a life of their own as each version becomes distanced from the original context—decaying and mutating to the point of abstraction. Eckert documents the process in a series of textiles, allowing an immersive consideration of the physical nature of materials, and the changing cultural ancestry of imagery.
This new body of work was created as part of the Elbow Room Residency Series.
Hazel Eckert, Drift (detail), Photocopied image printed on textile, 2017.
The next installation of Truth or Myth? draws on the permanent collection to explore the changing relationship between cultural identity and food in Newfoundland and Labrador, as portrayed by artists such as Grant Boland, Martin Lyons, Derrick Pottle, Mary Pratt, and Helen Parsons Shepherd.
Grant Boland, High Class Candies, oil on canvas, 2002. Photo credit: The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Collection