Coloured self-portrait photo of head and shoulders of Meryl McMaster facing the camera her eyes looking to the right. She is covered in white make up and the background is black. A loose ball of silver wire or twine is on her head with strands draping across her face and shoulders in curls and swirls, and grasped in her right hand beside her shoulder.
© Meryl McMaster, Meryl 2, 2010
Digital C-Print, 91.44 × 91.44 cm (36 × 36 inches)

Meryl McMaster is an Ottawa-based artist with nêhiyaw (Plains Cree), British and Dutch ancestry. Her practice, which is based predominantly in photography, incorporates the production of props, sculptural garments and performance. By exploring the self in relation to land, lineage, history, culture and the more-than-human world, she creates a synergy with her work that transports the viewer out of the ordinary and into a space of contemplation and introspection.

The sense of identity is a complex and ever-changing concept. In McMaster’s Second Self series, she, along with her friends, created blind drawings of themselves by picturing each other’s faces in their mind’s eye. Then, McMaster repeated the line patterns from these drawings to create wire forms that sit over the face, as one would wear a mask to project a new persona. These self-portraits point to our own skewed ways of seeing ourselves and our absurd concerns around how others perceive us.