Chasm: Reframing the McMaster Museum of Art Collection

This year, the McMaster Museum of Art platforms and participates in a rethinking of the museum concept. Curators Pamela Edmonds and Betty Julian present an exploratory collection exhibition which looks inward at the museum, reframing acquisitions to reflect on inequitable power dynamics and encourage critical dialogue of the oppressive systems embedded in museum practices. The full exhibition will open for public viewing as of June 13th, 2023.

Chasm is both a challenge and an invitation to the visitor. As museums seek to transform themselves in terms of for whom they exist, what role they play, what stories they tell, what ideological direction they record and influence; the M(M)A is determined to not just listen to the conversations but contribute to them in meaningful and active ways. Chasm, and the work of Betty Julian as Adjunct Senior Curator at the institution, along with former Senior Curator, now Guest Co-Curator, Pamela Edmonds, have taken a huge step toward understanding and addressing what has become a global re-think of what place settler museum collections have in the current moment. Many thanks and congratulations to them both for this project that will lead museological considerations of the collection question amongst Canadian institutions.”

– Carol Podedworny, M(M)A Director and Chief Curator


Curated by Pamela Edmonds and Betty Julian

On view until December 8, 2023
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 28, 5 – 8 PM
and join us for a program of public events taking place this Fall, to be announced soon.

Artists: Marissa Y Alexander, Sonny Assu, Nicolas Baier, Catherine Blackburn, Deanna Bowen, Joseph Calleja, Douglas Clark, Chris Cran, Paul Cvetich, Cathy Daley, Max Dean, Stan Douglas, FASTWÜRMS, Gerald Ferguson, Yves Gaucher, Betty Goodwin, Francisco Jos. de Goya y Lucientes, Angela Grauerholz, Spring Hurlbut, Clarissa Inglis, Alfredo Jaar, Svava Thordis Juliusson, Anselm Kiefer, Kapwani Kiwanga, James Lahey, Rita Letendre, Gino Lorcini, Liz Magor, John Massey, Guido Molinari, Shelley Niro, Ed Pien, Margaret Priest, Arthur Renwick, Susan Schielle, Takao Tanabe, Michael Thompson, Graham Todd, Serge Tousignant, Jan Wade, Shellie Zhang

Chasm continues a series of recent exhibitions exploring the permanent collection at the McMaster Museum of Art through critical curatorial frameworks. This exhibition offers diverse and transcultural perspectives and interpretations of the museum’s holdings, including recent acquisitions.

Chasm takes the unique vantage point of critiquing the power dynamics of colonialism from within the museum, informed by the transcultural positions of resistance that seek Indigenous sovereignty and Black liberation.

Guest curator and former M(M)A Senior Curator Pamela Edmonds, and M(M)A Adjunct Senior Curator Betty Julian present this critical and exploratory exhibition as a project making connections to art discourses and ideologies related to modernism, critiques of the white cube gallery, alterity, and ontological space. Our interests are to consider and to actively shift hegemonic paradigms through a radical rethinking of the exhibition space. Our curatorial conversations on how to activate critical dialogue within museums through exhibitions are meant to encourage and expand informed engagement. Our critical and curatorial tasks have been to find ways through our work to redress and resist the cultural amnesia surrounding intersecting systems of colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism and the anti-Black racism inherent in the foundation of our art institutions.

Left: Nicolas Baier, Octobre, 2000. Digital print on Duraflex paper mounted on rolled steel. Gift of Miriam Shiell, 2012.
Right: Shelley Niro, Nature’s Wild Children, 2022. Archival inkjet print. Donald Murray Shepherd Trust Purchase, 2023.

About McMaster Museum of Art

The McMaster Museum of Art is a meeting space for both the University campus and the community situated within the traditional territories of the Mississauga and the Haudenosaunee nations. The M(M)A engages and inspires through arts presentation and promotion, as well as by: growing an awareness of the interconnectivity of the past, present and future; advancing de-colonization; engaging in innovative and imaginative research; dismantling institutional and ideological boundaries; partnering and collaborating with intentionality; diversifying the collection; and building capacity.

McMaster Museum of Art
1280 Main St W
Hamilton, ON
L8S 4L6

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Museum Hours:
Tuesday: 11am-5pm
Wednesday: 11am-5pm
Thursday: 11am-7pm
Friday: 11am-5pm
Saturday – Monday: Closed

Admission is FREE and appointments are not required.

For more information please contact:
Liana Shaw
Communications Officer, McMaster Museum of Art
(905) 525-9140 x 27574

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