Substrata

Meryl McMaster | Sarah Sense | Patrick Dean Hubbell | Sonny Assu



Substrata

Meryl McMaster | Sarah Sense | Patrick Dean Hubbell | Sonny Assu


The Baldwin Gallery

04.06.2019 – 18.06.2019


Co-curated by Verity Seward, Dennison Smith and Oceana Masterman-Smith.


As part of Border Crossings’ ORIGINS Festival of First Nations, Substrata presents a selection of recent works by First Nations Canadian and Native American artists. Through a variety of mediums ranging from sculpture, photography, painting, and digital formats, the exhibition investigates the notion of surface and that which lies hidden beneath. Each artist brings to light the underlying stratas of personal biography, ancestral memory, and contested landscapes that have informed their rich and diverse contemporary perspectives.

Of Plains Cree and European descent, sculptural photographer Meryl McMaster interrogates the constructed nature of identity using performative sculptural guises. She explores the invented personas and social masks that conceal us, inviting the viewer to question what is sacrificed from one’s interiority to the surface of a fixed image. Meanwhile, Kwakwaka’wakw interdisciplinary artist Sonny Assu explores the contested territories of Canada’s Northwest Coast by overlaying indigenous iconography onto scanned navigational marine charts and digital renditions of 20th-century landscape paintings. His contemporary interventions rewrite underlying colonial narratives which have served to justify westward expansion and cultural genocide.


Patrick Dean Hubbell’s practice is rooted in a deep connection to his ancestral lands. Earth|Paradigm is a series of abstract paintings, representative of nature and the landscape, created using ochre and sienna-hued earth pigments gathered from his Navajo ancestral lands. His expressive canvases layer unconventional mark-making with symbolic elements of Navajo design, found in weaving, basketry or beadwork. With Choctaw and Chitimacha ancestry, Sarah Sense weaves together found imagery and her own landscape photography using traditional basket-making techniques. In Choctaw Irish Relation (2015) Sarah revisits stories told to her by her Choctaw grandmother, in particular the history of a Choctaw community that gave financial aid to the Irish during the famine of the 1840s. Sense’s intricately structured compositions divulge a hidden network of perspectives, family ties and migratory paths.


Text by Verity Seward





About ORIGINS Festival 2019

Border Crossings’ ORIGINS Festival celebrates the world’s First Nations in a two-week explosion of art, performance and debate. ORIGINS creates a unique opportunity to engage with Indigenous artists and activists at the cutting edge of cultural resistance, environmentalism and spiritual tradition. Working with some of the most significant cultural institutions in London, ORIGINS brings the world's Indigenous artists and cultures to the heart of the capital. Full 2019 programme available here.

© 2020 by Verity Seward