Cree Code Talker reveals/explores the role of Canadian Cree code talker Charles ‘Checker’ Tomkins during the Second World War. Digging deep into the US archives it depicts the true story of Charles’ involvement with the US Air Force and the development of the code talkers communication system, which was used to transmit crucial military communications, using the Cree language as a vital secret weapon in combat.
Dr. McMaster has over 30 years international work and expertise in contemporary art, critical theory, museology and Indigenous aesthetics. His experience as an artist and curator in art and ethnology museums researching and collecting art, as well as producing exhibitions has given him a thorough understanding of transnational Indigenous visual culture and curatorial practice. His early interests concerned the ways in which culturally sensitive objects were displayed in ethnology museums, as well as the lack of representation of Indigenous artists in art museums.
As a practicing artist, he offered a way of staging hitherto decontextualized objects different from the traditional formats favoured by exhibition designers trained in Western traditions; instead, his was an approach that rested on Indigenous epistemologies. These early stages in developing an –Indigenous visuality led him to study concepts in visual, experiential and spatial composition. His exhibition Savage Graces (1992) challenged long held views, and played a major role in breaking down conventional barriers around where art should be practiced, while also demonstrating that art is not tied to ethnicity.
As a curator, he focused on advancing the intellectual landscape for Indigenous curatorship through the foundational concept of voice. He curated, for example, an exhibition called Indigena (1992) that brought together unfiltered Indigenous voices for the first time. Until then, non-Indigenous scholars had dominated discussions of Indigenous art, history and culture. McMaster made the point that Indigenous artists and writers were more than capable of representing themselves in articulate, eloquent ways.
Over the past 20 years, he has continued to refine the idea of voice, leading him to ask: How can Indigenous voices continue providing new perspectives on well-researched subjects such as art, history and anthropology? Throughout his career, his championing of the mainstream value of Indigenous art, among other things, has led to his being chosen to represent Canada at a number of prestigious international events. These include his serving as Canadian Commissioner for the 1995 Venice Biennale, and as artistic director of the 2012 Biennale of Sydney, and curator for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.
Peter’s background includes business management, executive education-programming, from the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Executive Programs. He holds a BFA degree (Hons) from York University, a Master’s Degree in Design – Strategic Foresight Innovation from OCAD University, and several executive education certificates from: the MIT Sloan School Entrepreneurship Program, the Wharton School of Business, the INSEAD School of Business Social Entrepreneurship Program, and the Rotman School of Management, Executive Programs, Integrative Thinking Program. His research focus includes integrative and design thinking, entrepreneurship, social innovation, social finance and Microfinance. Peter was RA for the Cree Code Talker research project and symposium in 2016 at the INVC Research Centre, and he continues to work with the INVC RC on strategic planning projects, workshops and upcoming conference in 2017. Peter has also written several blog posts at SocialFinance.ca, the Toronto International Microfinance Summit, and was a lead organizing committee member for the INTERSECTION: Entrepreneurship & Indigenous Arts Conference at OCAD University. Currently, Peter is co-founder of a social enterprise, and a freelance instructor at Sheridan College, OCAD University, and McMaster University.
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