There Once Was a Song - There Once Was A Song at the McCord Museum
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Artist-in-Residence

From April 2 to August 15, 2021

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There Once Was a Song

Meryl McMaster

There Once Was a Song by Meryl McMaster, an artist of nêhiyaw (Plains Cree), British and Dutch heritage,  examines the relation between humans and nature through three original works inspired by late 19th century glass bell jars from the Museum’s Material Culture collection. Symbols of another era, these jars containing mounted animals and dried plants were the starting point for Meryl McMaster’s creative process.

For the first time, Meryl McMaster has created an exhibition where she combines photography, her preferred art form, with other media like video and sculpture. Her work questions the desire to capture and confine the natural world in order to freeze it in time.

  • Bell jar, 1870-1875. Gift of David M. Lank, M995.52.1.1-2 © McCord Museum
  • Bell jar, 1870-1890. Gift of Sandra Lang and Sarah Powell, M994.48.2.1-2 © McCord Museum
  • Firescreen, about 1870. Gift of Ms. George H. Montgomery, M998.13.1 © McCord Museum

Meryl McMaster

Meryl McMaster earned her BFA in Photography from OCAD University (2010) and is currently based in Ottawa. 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 nêhiyaw (Plains Cree), British and Dutch ancestry.

McMaster’s work has been included in solo and group exhibitions throughout Canada and internationally. Her awards include the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award (2018), REVEAL Indigenous Art Award (2017), Canon Canada Prize (2010) and more.

Her work is widely represented in museum collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Canadian Museum of History and National Museum of American Indian.

Artist-in-Residence Program

Launched in 2012, this program invites artists to take a critical and conceptual look at the McCord Museum’s collection, reflecting on the connections between their artistic practice and the artefacts and stories they uncover during their research.

At the end of each residency, the artist presents a solo exhibition of works created for the occasion. As part of this research-oriented creative activity, artists are encouraged to communicate their own interpretation of the collection and propose new ways of interpreting history in its many forms.

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Discussion with Meryl McMaster, Artist, Hélène Samson, Curator, Photography at the McCord Museum et Jonathan Lainey, Curator, Indigenous Cultures at the McCord Museum.

Live virtual opening of the exhibition on April 1, 2021 hosted by Pierre-François Ouellette. With Meryl McMaster, Artist, Guislaine Lemay, Curator, Material Culture, Hélène Samson, Curator, Photography, and Suzanne Sauvage, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Not to be missed!

Thanks to our partners
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