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KĀNAWĀPĀTAHMŌWIN: Introduction to Indigenous Visual Knowledge

KĀNAWĀPĀTAHMŌWIN: Introduction to Indigenous Visual Knowledge
April 6, 2023

The first virtual event in the 2023 series, Kānawāpātahmōwin: Indigenous Visual Knowledge featured Dr. Gerald McMaster in conversation with Cristóbal Martínez (Postcommodity), Leroy Little Bear, and Harald Gaski. The discussion lays the foundation for the series, delving into the role of storytelling within language and its significance while interpreting Indigenous art and the world around us.


Watch now on YouTube.


About the series

Over a set of four conversations, two virtual and two in-person, Dr. McMaster will gather Indigenous scholars, artists, and knowledge keepers from communities around the world to discuss and conceptualize the significance of Indigenous visual knowledge and its contribution to different knowledge systems. The series will build upon the foundation of Dr. McMaster’s research as panelists share insight on Indigenous ways of seeing and its impact on language, culture, and community.

KĀNAWĀPĀTAHMŌWIN is presented by the Power Institute as part of the Visiting Professorship program at the University of Sydney. Dr. McMaster is the first of three experts in North American Indigenous art to spend 10 months at the University of Sydney, made possible through the support of the Terra Foundation for American Art. The program will introduce North American Indigenous Art to Australian students and initiate research on connections between Australian, Asia-Pacific, and North American art histories.


About the speakers

Gerald McMaster is the Director of Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge at OCAD University in Toronto, and a leading voice nationally and internationally, with over 30 years of experience in contemporary art, critical theory, museology, and Indigenous aesthetics. He is Plains Cree from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation and a member of the Siksika Nation. He has served as the Canadian Commissioner for the 1995 Venice Biennale, Artistic Director of the 2012 Biennale of Sydney, and Curator for the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture. He is the recipient of Governor General’s Awards for Visual and Media Arts from the Canada Council for his prolific curatorial legacy. McMaster has served as Adjunct Curator for Remai Modern since 2018. 

Postcommodity is an interdisciplinary art collective comprised of Cristóbal Martínez (Mestizo), and Kade L. Twist (Cherokee). Postcommodity’s art functions as a shared Indigenous lens and voice to engage the assaultive manifestations of the global market and its supporting institutions, public perceptions, beliefs, and individual actions that comprise the ever-expanding, multinational, multiracial and multi-ethnic colonizing force that is defining the 21st Century through ever increasing velocities and complex forms of violence. Postcommodity works to forge new metaphors capable of rationalizing our shared experiences within this increasingly challenging contemporary environment; promote a constructive discourse that challenges the social, political and economic processes that are destabilizing communities and geographies; and connect Indigenous narratives of cultural self-determination with the broader public sphere. The collective has received numerous grants, and has been exhibited nationally and internationally. 

Harald Gaski was born and grew up on the river Deatnu in Sápmi, on the 70th latitude in the northernmost county in Norway. Gaski is an author, editor, and a professor in Sámi literature at Sámi allaskuvla (Sámi University of Applied Sciences) in Guovdageaidnu and a professor in Sámi culture and literature at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. He has been instrumental in establishing Sámi literature as an academic field and has translated Sámi literature and Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s poetry into Norwegian and English. His most recent book is an anthology of Sámi literature titled Myths, Tales and Poetry from Four Centuries of Sámi Literature. 

Leroy Little Bear is a renowned educator, academic, and founder of the Native American Studies Department at the University of Lethbridge where he served as Chair for 21 years, and went on to become the founding Director of Harvard University’s Native American Program. His dedication to education, leadership, community-building and advocacy has led to a United Nations declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, changed the Constitution of Canada, and served as a shining example of global collaboration. A member of the Blackfoot Confederacy, Little Bear’s story began on the Blood Indian Reserve in Southern Alberta, Canada.


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