Natalka Husar’s “R” for Christmas 2014

Natalka Husar, Release for Christmans, 2014, 7.25 x 5.25 inches, thread and acrylic on linen

Natalka Husar, Release for Christmas, 2014, 7.25 x 5.25 inches, thread and acrylic on linen

An artistic holiday tradition continues…here’s Natalka Husar’s annual Christmas book cover painting – “R” for Christmas (see previous years & more info).

The artist describes her 2014 painting:

This is turning into a series, a year-end summary of where my work and my characters are going, in the atmosphere of a time-warped pulp fiction.  So this is my New Jersey muse along with my Ukrainian muse.  Dismissed.  Released.  Hired for a film?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Much of the painting is sewn as that is what I am doing in my new work, so the blond’s braids, the brunette’s highlights, the mortar lines in the building, all the font, the price and discount sticker, are all thread — on acrylic on linen.

Connecting BHSc. & Westdale Secondary students through visual literacy

Guest Blog by Annie Zhu, 3rd year Health Sciences student at McMaster University

Despite the chilly November weather, students from both the Bachelor of Health Sciences program at McMaster University and Westdale Secondary School’s Fine Art Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) students braved the elements to participate in The Perceptive Eye, a project I developed for the Health Science Project Inquiry course at McMaster in collaboration with McMaster Museum of Art and Westdale Secondary School. The Perceptive Eye was a series of sessions that were packed with activities, allowing students to learn visual literacy skills and apply these skills to areas outside of art. This program was also part of a research project that aimed to see whether skills such as observation and communication are improved after participating in the program.

The Perceptive Eye gave students the opportunity to learn about visual literacy and engage with the art at the McMaster Museum of Art. They incorporated the visual literacy skills they learned to begin to interpret and make meaning out of the artworks, ranging from David Blackwood’s Brian and Martin Winsor, March 30, 1978 to William Hogarth’s Stages of Cruelty. Additionally, they applied these skills to aspects outside of visual art, from analyzing and identifying parts of the brain to deciphering emotions from photos of eyes. For the last session, the students participated in an observational activity and art creation at Westdale Secondary School. Despite the fun and engrossing discussions, all good things must come to an end. It seems as if no time has passed since the first session but through the course of the three weeks, everyone has grown and learned so much.

We had a great response for The Perceptive Eye and hopefully with the feedback and completion of the research project, there will be many more sessions in the future.

photo 12

Special thanks to the McMaster Museum of Art and Westdale Secondary School art teachers for making these sessions possible!

McMaster’s paintings at MMFA

Dufy painting

Raoul Dufy (French 1877-1953), Les Arbres Verts à L’Estaque, 1908
Oil on canvas. Levy Bequest Purchase, 1996. Collection of McMaster Museum of Art, McMaster University

We are very proud that 3 paintings from McMaster’s collection – by Paul Klee, Raoul Dufy and Émile-Othon Friesz  – were requested and loaned for this major exhibition Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky, presented at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2014  and now at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until January 25, 2015.

The exhibit sheds new light on the extraordinary response of artists in Germany and France to important advances in modern art in the early 20th century.

Here is a lecture about the exhibition by Timothy O. Benson, exhibition curator and curator of the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies at the LACMA.

note:  McMaster’s paintings are discussed at 31:10 (Friesz) and 59:12 (Klee)!

Exhibition advertisement

Leonard Baskin and Typography


Leonard Baskin labelled himself an “architect of the page”. The output of Gehenna Press, founded by Baskin in 1942, demonstrates his attention to detail and concern for the artistry of books.

The typography alone makes his approach evident. See this excerpt from the site Artifex: Leonard Baskin and the Gehenna Press.

“Once Baskin reached a mature phase as a book designer in the 1960s, the Gehenna Press favored classic typefaces, particularly those designed and cut by Nicholas Jenson in Venice in the late fifteenth century, and revived in the early twentieth-century. The beauty of these balanced, time-honored letterforms appealed to Baskin’s sense of the history of book making as much as to his aesthetic preferences.

Nicolas Jenson. Latin grammar text book, 1475

Nicolas Jenson. Latin grammar text book, 1475

Indeed, he crafted his own handwriting, evident in the many signatures and notations on display in this exhibition, as a modern adaptation of Italian Renaissance chancery hand. Baskin later began to appreciate more modern typefaces, including Spectrum (designed by Jan Van Krimpen) and Civilité (designed by Herman Zapf), both of which revived Renaissance letterforms.”

Baskin’s focus on typography is not unfamiliar to our contemporary culture. We’re generally aware of different typographical terminologies. We have the ability to work and play with them on our word processing software every day.

Only a few decades ago, this was not the case.

See this fantastic video (made by a McMaster student) of the history of typography.

An Invitation to See the Self through Others

Deanna Bowen video still

Deanna Bowen (Canadian b. 1969)
sum of the parts: what can be named, 2010
video still. Courtesy of the artist and Vtape

A guest blog by Gio Diokno
4th year Theatre and Film Student, McMaster University

Throughout the course of the term, Ben Robinson and I have been conducting research on the issue of self-representation under the supervision of Dr. Janice Hladki and Dr. Sarah Brophy and in relation to the art exhibit, This is Me, This is Also Me. The exhibit provides an opportunity to engage in an inquiry with issues surrounding self-representation in such a way that broadens the scope of possibly understanding the ways in which people represent themselves.

However, what is the purpose of examining the ways in which people represent themselves? What is it that we can take from recognizing the ways in which self-representation is read as political, self-reflective, or abstracted?

Perhaps we can answer this by thinking of ways that we see ourselves in the art; ways to connect with the art and learn more about ourselves in how art presents the self. I would like to offer a personal reflection on the art in the exhibit as a means to show the connection with art and how I learned more about myself through engaging with the artworks.

Deanna Bowen explores and traces her personal, familial history in sum of the parts: what can be named. Bowen illustrates the intersection between personal history and historical events and engages in an interrogation of how history is written. The artwork traces the history of the Bowen family alongside the history of racism and slavery in America. In relation to Bowen’s reflection on her own personal history, I found that having a personal engagement with history provides alternative ways of encountering history and lends to the recognition of people’s lived experiences within these histories.

With regards to my own experience, I’ve encountered opposing perspectives on historical events, with both Filipino and American perspectives on the politics surrounding the Spanish-American War. Growing up the in Philippines, I learned how the Americans partook in their own form of colonialism by helping the Filipinos defeat the Spaniards, promising the Filipinos their freedom, but eventually extending their stay and building military bases all over the country. Upon moving to the States, however, this event was framed as a valiant effort to liberate the Filipinos from Spanish colonial rule and a project to develop an outpost in the Pacific, which only ended upon the realization on the part of the Americans that imperialism was immoral and that the Filipinos should have their freedom.

The intersection between these perspectives on history is a mark of my complicated diasporic identity and is a reminder of how it’s important to remember the history of my heritage and how it relates to the history of the West. I find that Bowen’s work attempts to reframe how history is understood, and in some ways decolonizes history, with the subjugated Other as the primary voice of the story being told. Bowen’s work addresses the absence of the self in history and articulates the importance of personal stories in the framing of history, illustrating concerns as to whose stories are told and whose identities are at stake.

The artworks in the exhibit pose such questions about the interactions between self and society, considering how we represent ourselves and whether or not “the self” is at the center of dominant modes of representation. The artists illustrate the politics of representation and offer their art as ways for audiences to understand, not only the artist’s politics, but also how the audiences are implicated in the issue of representation. With the topic of society and politics of representation in mind, we can mobilize these artworks as ways to look into our own lives and how we represent ourselves.

With our visual culture inundated with “selfies” on multiple platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, it’s quite clear that contemporary culture centers on the practice of image-making and articulating the self.

Gio Diokno

Gio Diokno, 4th year Theatre & Film Student, McMaster University

A continued reflection upon the ways in which we take part in the process of self-representation could lead us to understanding more about ourselves, how we represent ourselves in relation to society, and the cultural phenomena unfolding before us.

To further engage with the discussion on self-representation, a panel discussion, “Representing the Self, Connecting to Others,” will be taking place on November 27 at 1:30pm in the McMaster Museum of Art. Come and join the discussion!

PANEL DISCUSSION: Representing the Self, Connecting to Others. Nov 27

Installation view with works by artists Edvard Munch, Rebecca Belmore, and Cathy Daley. This is Me, This is Also Me exhibition, McMaster Museum of Art.

Installation view with works by artists Edvard Munch, Rebecca Belmore, and Cathy Daley.
This is Me, This is Also Me exhibition, McMaster Museum of Art.

The McMaster Museum of Art invites you to a…

Representing the Self, Connecting to Others
Thursday November 27 from 1:30 – 3 PM

You are invited to attend a panel discussion by scholars of autobiography, visual culture, feminist theory, sexuality studies, and Indigenous Studies. The panel is hosted and organized by Dr. Sarah Brophy and Dr. Janice Hladki, McMaster professors and co-curators of This Is Me, This Is Also Me, an exhibition of self-representational art now on view at the McMaster Museum of Art.

The panelists are:

EVA C. KARPINSKI is Associate Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University, where she teaches feminist theory, cultural studies, autobiography, and translation studies. Her research interests include postmodernist, poststructuralist, and affect theories, feminist ethics and pedagogy, twentieth-century literature, and women’s life writing in multiple genres and media. She has published over 30 articles and book chapters in Canadian and international venues, most recently in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. She is the author of Borrowed Tongues: Life Writing, Migration, and Translation (2012) and co-editor of Trans/Acting Culture, Writing, and Memory: Essays in Honour of Barbara Godard (2013).

SHOSHANA MAGNET is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies and le départment de Criminologie at the University of Ottawa. She has published three books: When Biometrics Fail: Race, Gender and the Technology of Identity (Duke University Press, 2011), The New Media of Surveillance (co-edited with Kelly Gates, Routledge 2010) and Feminist Surveillance Studies (co-edited with Rachel Dubrofsky, and forthcoming from Duke University Press in spring 2015).

CARRIE MCMULLIN is a recent graduate of McMaster University, holding a combined honours B.A. in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory, History, and Indigenous Studies. Carrie’s academic interests combine these disciplines into work that reflects upon ideas of identity and the representation of othered bodies within the multi-national project of Canada. As a multi-national Mohawk and Canadian citizen herself, Carrie hopes to further address the political ramifications of these representations in both historical and contemporary contexts. Upon her graduation in spring 2014, Carrie received a President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership, in part for her work on behalf of the McMaster First Nations Students Association.

THY PHU is an Associate Professor at Western University. Her research and teaching focus on cultural studies, visual culture, Asian North American literature, critical race studies, and American studies. Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture (Temple University Press, 2012), her first book, explores the relationship between civility and citizenship. Her second book, Feeling Photography, a collection of essays co-edited with Elspeth Brown, is published from Duke University Press. She is currently working on two related projects. The first, with Andrea Noble, is on the Cold War Camera, a collaborative exploration of the ways that photography mediates the global cold war. The second is a history of 20th-century Vietnamese photography.

This free panel discussion will be followed by a question and answer session.
Please join us for what promises to be an exciting and invigorating discussion!

This project is supported at McMaster University by the Arts Research Board; Forward with Integrity, Office of the President; and Research & International Affairs.

McMaster Museum of Art
Alvin A. Lee Building
McMaster University
1280 Main St W
Hamilton, ON L8S 4L6
905.525.9140 x.23241

Admission is Free
Museum hours: Tue/Wed/Fri 11am-5pm, Thu 11-7, Sat 12-5

A Year of Creativity: Session #2

This is Me, This is Also Me exhibition (viewing video by Kenyan/British artist Grace Ndiritu) — at McMaster Museum of Art.

This is Me, This is Also Me exhibition
(viewing video by Kenyan/British artist Grace Ndiritu) — at McMaster Museum of Art.

The McMaster Museum of Art invites McMaster graduate students to the second session of the “Year of Creativity”, a series of workshops that will engage graduate students in creative thinking through the Museum’s inspired space and art collection.

design_2Exploring art and the brain:
problems and possibilities
A Year of Creativity: Session #2
Thursday November 27, 5 – 7 pm

Dinner provided

Here’s an outline of the evening…

November 27 Exploring art and the brain:
problems and possibilities
5 – 5:30 Sally McKay, Instructor, McMaster School of the Arts.Exploring art and the brain: problems and possibilities. This seminar will consider art and neuroscience to challenge the mind/body split.
5:30 – 6 Art-making activity led by Sally McKay.
6 – 6:20 Tour of This Is Me, This Is Also Me exhibition.This group exhibition of Canadian-based and international works focuses on self-representation and self-portraiture.
6:20 – 6:45 Creative activity: Mind-mapping – a creative way to visualize our thoughts, ideas, issues and the connections between them. Mind maps let us see what we think.

For more information please contact Irena Radisevic ( or Nicole Knibb (

Space is limited. To register please visit our Eventbrite page

Directions to the Museum


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