Open main menu

Gerald Raymond McMaster, O.C. (born 9 March 1953, in North Battleford) is a curator, artist, and author and a Plains Cree member of the Siksika Nation.[1] McMaster is a professor at OCAD University[2] and is the adjunct curator at the Remai Modern in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.[3]

Gerald McMaster
Gerald mcmaster.jpg
Born (1953-03-09) March 9, 1953 (age 66)
NationalityCanadian, Siksika Nation
Occupationcurator, artist

Early life and educationEdit

Gerald McMaster was born in 1953 and grew up on the Red Pheasant First Nation reserve in Saskatchewan, Canada. His father is Blackfoot, while his mother is Plains Cree. He says he grew up listening to Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy on the radio, while avidly reading western comic books – all of which would later influence his art.[1]

McMaster says, "I've been an urban Indian since the age of nine. I've attended art school in the United States, trained in the Western tradition; yet I am referred to as an 'Indian' artist. I have danced and sung in the traditional powwow style of Northern Plains, yet my musical tastes are global ..."[1]

McMaster studied art at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 1973 to 1975. He earned his BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He earned his master's degree in Anthropology and Sociology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario,[4] and continued his studies at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.[5]


McMaster draws and paints with humour and an ironic juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary pop culture elements. Identities, fluid and multiple, are central to his art practice. In his piece Eclectic Baseball, "traditional Plains Indian symbols of warfare and sacred ceremony were freely mixed with symbols and actual equipment of contemporary baseball". One of his best known series is The cowboy/Indian Show.[1] Hide painting, pictographs, and petroglyphs inspire his methods of representation. He works in oil and acrylic.[5]

In 1995, he ceased being a full-time artist in order to devote more time to curating, critical theory, and writing.


Gerald McMaster in a panel discussion with Paul Chaat Smith and Joseph Sanchez

From 1977 to 1981, McMaster coordinated the Indian Art Program and was an instructor at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. Beginning in 1981, he was curator of Contemporary Indian Art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.[4]

McMaster has curated a number of thought-provoking contemporary Native art shows, including INDIGENA at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.[6] In 2011, he curated with Ingo Hessel Inuit Modern at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.[7] In 1995, McMaster curated Edward Poitras's exhibition at the Biennale di Venezia. In 2005, Poitras, of Gordon First Nation, was the first aboriginal artist to represent Canada in the Biennale di Venezia.[8]

He served as the director's special assistant and deputy assistant director for cultural resources at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City from 2000 to 2004. He worked with the permanent collections there, as well as curating the shows, First American Art in 2004 and New Tribe/New York in 2005.[9]

He was curator of Canadian art at the Art Gallery of Ontario until 2012, when he was succeeded by Andrew Hunter.[10][9]

Awards and honorsEdit

In 2005, McMaster was awarded Canada's highest honor, the Order of Canada. That same year he also received the national Aboriginal Achievement Award.[9]

Selected published worksEdit

  • McMaster, Gerald and Clifford E. Trafzer, eds. Native Universe: Voices of Indian America: Native American Tribal Leaders, Writers, Scholars, and Story Tellers. National Geographic, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4262-0335-0.
  • McMaster, Gerald and Joe Baker, ed. Remix: New Modernities in a Post-Indian World. Washington DC: National Museum of the American Indian, 2007. ISBN 978-1-933565-10-1.
  • McMaster, Gerald, Bruce Bernstein, Kathleen Ash-Milby, eds. First American Art: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection of American Indian Art. Washington DC: National Museum of the American Indian, 2004. ISBN 978-0-295-98403-2.
  • McMaster, Gerald. Reservation X. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-295-97775-1.
  • McMaster, Gerald. The New Tribe: Critical Perspectives and Practices in Aboriginal Contemporary Art. Amsterdam: Acedemisch Proefschrift, University of Amsterdam, 1999. ASIN B001ELWQLK.
  • McMaster, Gerald. "Museums and Galleries as Sites for Artistic Intervention", In The Subjects of Art History: Historical Objects in Contemporary Perspectives. Eds. Mark A. Cheetham, Michael Ann Holly, and Keith Moxey. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 250–261. 1998.
  • McMaster, Gerald. Jeffery Thomas: Portraits from the Dancing Grounds. Exhibition catalogue. Ottawa: Ottawa Art Gallery, 1996
  • McMaster, Gerald. Mary Longman: Traces. Exhibition catalogue. Kamloops, BC: Kamloops Art Gallery, 1996.
  • McMaster, Gerald and Lee-Ann Martin. Indigena. Contemporary native perspectives in Canadian art. 1992. ASIN B0010YFFSC.
  • McMaster, Gerald, Jennifer S. H. Brown, Clara Harfittay, and Shirley J. R. Madill. Robert Houle: Indians from A to Z. Goose Lance Editions, 1990. ISBN 978-0-88915-156-7.
  • McMaster, Gerald. Edward Poitras: Canada Xlvi Biennale Di Venezia. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-660-50753-8.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b c d Abbot, Larry. Gerald McMaster: Plains Cree. A Time of Visions. (retrieved 20 Nov 2009)
  2. ^ McMaster, Gerald (8 May 2018). "Gerald McMaster: Curating art for a new world". Saskatoon Star Phoenix. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  3. ^ "News in Brief: Gerald McMaster Joins the Remai Modern and More". Canadian Art. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  4. ^ a b Ryan, 297
  5. ^ a b Newlands, 210
  6. ^ Showcase: Sharing the Circle. Saskatchewan Arts Board. (retrieved 20 Nov 2009)
  7. ^ Adams, James. "Modern Inuit art: Beyond tradition – and the tourist shops”, The Globe and Mail. Toronto: 8 Apr. 2011. Web.
  8. ^ "Aboriginal Artists, Contemporary", The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. (retrieved 20 Nov 2009)
  9. ^ a b c "Native Networks: Gerald McMaster." National Museum of the American Indian. (retrieved 20 Nov 2009)
  10. ^ "Inside the walls with Wanda Nanibush, the AGO's agent of change | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2016-08-15.
  11. ^ "Gerald McMaster". (retrieved 20 Nov 2009)
  12. ^ ACC/CCA | Bibliography – M. Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. (retrieved 20 Nov 2009)


External linksEdit