Caitlin, from the Second Self series, reconsiders identity within traditional portraiture and self-portraiture by incorporating drawing and sculpture to evoke a world not normally seen by the naked eye. McMaster had blind-contour self-portrait drawings done by her subjects as a process that she felt was telling of self-concept or betrayed the distortions of self-perception. Using wire, she re-created these drawings as sculptures that then became masks—or personas—that subtly concealed and changed the subjects’ perceived identities. Through experimentation with strange and artificial representations of the body, Second Self provides an opportunity to comment on the challenges of accurately representing identity through portraiture.
Meryl McMaster is an Ottawa-based artist who earned her BFA in photography from OCAD University in Toronto. Her distinct approach to photographic portraiture and self-portraits has a performative quality: she explores questions of self through land, lineage, history, and culture. Her work has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Tacoma Art Museum, McMaster Museum of Art, The Rooms, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. She participated in What Does the Image Stand For?, Momenta | Biennale de l’image (Montréal), and Small Between the Stars, Large Against the Sky, Manif d’art 9, (Québec City). 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), OCAD U Medal (2010) and the 2016 Sobey Art Award long list. Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, the Heard Museum, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum London, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Ottawa Art Gallery, Canadian Museum of History, and the National Museum of the American Indian.