In 2023 and 2024, the University's Power Institute and the Discipline of Art History is hosting Gerald McMaster, an internationally renowned artist, curator and scholar of contemporary art, museology and Indigenous aesthetics from OACD University in Toronto.
Professor Gerald McMaster is the first of three experts in North American Indigenous art to spend 10 months at the University, as part of a Visiting Professorship program made possible by funding from the prestigious Terra Foundation for American Art.
The program will introduce Indigenous Art of the North American continent to Australian students and initiate research on connections between Australian, Asia-Pacific, and North American art histories.
Professor McMaster is uniquely qualified for this task. Over the past 30 years, he has garnered wide respect and numerous accolades for his work as an artist, curator and scholar. He is known fondly by many in Australia due to his role as Artistic Director of the 2012 Biennale of Sydney. Professor McMaster is also the Director of Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge at OCAD University in Toronto.
During his time at the University, Professor McMaster will teach undergraduate students within the Discipline of Art History, and meet with academic staff and higher-degree research students from across the University. Professor McMaster will also pursue his own research on the connections between Indigenous cultures of Australia, Asia-Pacific and North America, building on the knowledge and networks formed through Arctic/Amazon: Networks of Global Indigeneity, a publication and exhibition project realised in 2022.
"The boomerang given to me by local folks in 2012 has brought me back,” said Professor McMaster. “Thank you. I look forward to continuing the ongoing dialogue established many years ago and to developing a mutuality in articulating the many ways Indigenous thinking can contribute to the art world discourse."
The Visiting Professorship is the first the Terra Foundation has supported in the Southern Hemisphere, and the first dedicated to Indigenous Art.
The Professorship is also a major achievement for the University’s Power Institute. As Director, Professor Mark Ledbury explained: “Since its founding in 1965, the Power Institute’s mission has always been to connect students and the public with the most exciting ideas in visual art and culture. This program enables us to learn from important conversations about Indigenous art and global Indigenous networks, and the richness of Indigenous ways of seeing the world.”
These insights link directly to the Power Institute’s “Visual Understanding Initiative”, a wide-ranging program that will bring together thinkers from across the arts and sciences to understand the nature of vision today.
The Visiting Professors will share their work with a wider audience both within the University and outside it. Professor McMaster has already commenced this sharing by way of a free online conversation series entitled Kāmawāpātahmōwin: Indigenous Visual Knowledge. Co-presented by the Power Institute and the Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge, the series brings together artists, academics, activists, and community members from Indigenous communities in the global Arctic, North America, and Australia to discuss their different knowledge systems, and the role visual perception plays within them.
With two more events in this series to take place in person in Sydney over the next few months, an exciting year of research, teaching and public programs lies ahead.