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ARTHIST 3BB3 Indig Art\Vis Cult 1960 - Pres

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Rheanne Chartrand



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Fridays, 11:30 – 1:20 PM, or by appointment

Course Objectives:


By the end of this course, students will demonstrate:

  1. An understanding of the social, cultural, political and economic determinants that have impacted the presentation of Indigenous art in Canada historically;
  2. An understanding of the role that museums and galleries have played, and continue to play, in the creation, interpretation and dissemination of knowledge about Indigenous art and by extension, Indigenous peoples in Canada;
  3. An ability to identify key exhibitions of Indigenous art since the 1960s, and to pinpoint key shifts, trends, and benchmarks in the evolution of Indigenous art practice since the 1960s;
  4. An ability to trace the emergence of Indigenous curatorial practice and art criticism;
  5. A more respectful and culturally-sensitive understanding of complexities of the Indigenous experience in Canada as expressed through, and embodied in, Indigenous forms of creative expression;
  6. An ability to position – on equal footing – Indigenous art within the larger art world, both regionally, nationally and internationally; and
  7. A willingness to act as an ally.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Custom courseware for this course will be available through McMaster University Campus Store under the course code ARTHIST 3BB3 / INDIGST 3F03, Winter Term 2018.

Method of Assessment:





  • Attendance alone will not be enough. Please review “Classroom etiquette” section of this course outline for more information


Reflection paper #1

  • Students will write a personal reflection paper based on Indigenous Cultural Competency Training workshop
  • Due: Tuesday January 16th


Reflection paper #2

  • Students will write a reflection paper based on a film presented in class
  • Due: Tuesday January 30th  


Exhibition review

  • Students are required to visit and then write a constructive critique of an exhibition of Indigenous art currently on view at a GTA-based cultural institution
  • Due: Friday February 16th 


Collections assignment & presentation

  • Students will make use of McMaster Museum of Art’s Indigenous art collection to research a work of art and present their research to the class
  • Presentation day: Tuesday February 27th


Research paper

  • Provides students with the opportunity to more thoroughly investigate an issue or theme(s) related to Indigenous art
  • Due: Friday March 23rd


In-class final exam

  • Students will receive an exam briefing note on Tuesday March 27th, and the in-class exam will be written on Tuesday April 3rd

Please note: All assignments are due in class, unless otherwise noted. If you cannot turn in an assignment in-person, please let your instructor know in advance. If you cannot turn an assignment on the due date, please refer to “Polices on Late Work, Extensions and Late Penalties” below.

Students in this course will receive a midterm grade of at least 10% by March 16, 2018.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:



As mentioned in “Course evaluation” section above, all written assignments must be submitted in class by the due date. Do not submit assignments by email nor drop them off at the Museum of Art unless prior notice is given to your instructor.

Late assignments will be penalized 5% a day (weekends will count as one day). Late penalties will not be waived unless your Faculty/Program Office advises your instructor that you have submitted to that office the appropriate documentation to support your inability to submit the work by the due date.

You can find information on how to submit a McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) at:



Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:




Please note: assigned readings are listed in suggested reading order as this course is, as much as possible, organized chronologically and thematically.



Week 1


Fri Jan 5


Course Introduction


Welcome & Thanksgiving Address by Renee Thomas-Hill, Elder-in-Residence, Indigenous Studies Program, McMaster University


Readings: No assigned readings



Week 2


Tues Jan 9

Fri Jan 12


Laying our Foundation – Building an inclusive and culturally sensitive approach to the study of Indigenous art


Indigenous Cultural Competency Training with Michael Etherington, Cultural Manager, The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto


Readings: No assigned readings


Related event(s):


Exhibition opening at McMaster Museum of Art – #nofilterneeded: Shining light on the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers’ Association, 1985-1992 – Thursday January 11, 6:00 – 8:00 PM



Week 3


Tues Jan 16

Fri Jan 19


Setting the Scene, Part 1

Our Current Context – the past lives in the present


*Reflection Paper #1 due in Tuesday’s class


Film: Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993) by Alanis Obomsawin




Government of Canada. Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy, 1969. pp. 12-14. URL:


LaGace, Naithan and Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair. “The White Paper, 1969” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2015. URL:


Doerr, Audrey D. “The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2006 (rev. 2015). URL:


Task Force on Museums and First Peoples. Turning the Page: Forging New partnerships between Museums and First Peoples. 3rd Edition. Ottawa: Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Museums Association, 1992. pp. 1-11. URL:


United Nations. 2008. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. URL:


Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Canada’s Residential Schools: Reconciliation, The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume 6. Montreal, Kingston: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2006. Chapter 4, pp. 132-145. URL:



Related event(s):


Hooker Distinguished Visiting Professor, Dylan Robinson to give a public lecture: “shxwelítemelh totí:lt: Hungry States of Perception” – Tuesday, January 16th at 7:30 pm (location TBA)



Week 4


Tues Jan 23

Fri Jan 26


Setting the Scene, Part 2

From “curiosities” to painted out of the picture: Addressing the absence of Indigenous peoples within the canon of “Canadian” art




Bennett, Tony. Birth of the Museum: history, theory, politics. London & New York: Routledge, 1995. Chapter 2 (pp. 59-88) & Chapter 6 (pp. 163-173).


Duncan, Carol & Alan Wallach. “The Universal Survey Museum.” Art History, Vol. 3, no. 4, 1980. pp. 448 – 469.


Stewart J.D.M. and Helmut Kallmann. “Massey Commission.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2006 (rev. 2016). URL:


Whitelaw, Anne. “Whiffs of Balsam, Pine, and Spruce: Art Museums and the Production of a Canadian Aesthetic,” in Beyond Wilderness: The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity and Contemporary Art, eds. John O’Brien and Peter White. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007. pp. 174-179.


Phillips, Ruth B. “Indigenous Lands/Settler Landscapes: Art Histories Out of Joint,” in Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic, eds. John Brownlee, Valeria Piccoli and Georgiana Uhlyarik. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario in association with New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015. pp. 92-99.



Week 5


Tues Jan 30

Fri Feb 2


1960s: “We’re Still Here” – Re-emergence of Indigenous creative expression


*Reflection Paper #2 due in Tuesday’s class




McMaster, Gerald. “Tenuous Lines of Descent: Indian Arts and Crafts of the Reservation Period.” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies Vol. 9, no. 2, 1989. URL:


Phillips, Ruth B. and Sherry Brydon. “‘Arrow of Truth’: The Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo 67,” in Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums, ed. Ruth B. Phillips. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011. pp. 27-47.


Nemiroff, Diana. “Modernism, Nationalism and Beyond: A Critical History of Exhibition of First Nations Art,” in Land, Spirit, Power: First Nations at the National Gallery of Canada, eds. Diana Nemiroff, Robert Houle and Charlotte Townsend-Gault. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1992. pp. 16-41.


MacDonald, George F. “Native Voice at the Canadian Museum of Civilization,” in The Native Universe and Museums in the Twenty-First Century: The Significance of the National Museum of the American Indian. Washington D.C. and New York: National Museum of the American Indian, 2005. pp. 40-51.



Week 6


Tues Feb 6

Fri Feb 9

1970s: The rise of the Woodland School of Art and the “Indian Group of Seven”


MMA Collections Visit during Tuesday’s class


Film: The Life and Work of the Woodland Artists (2003) by Raoul McKay




Fry, Jacqueline. Treaty Numbers 23, 287, 1171: Three Indian Painters of the Prairies. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1972.


Hill, Tom. Indian Art ’74: An Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Traditional Crafts. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1974.


LaVallee, Michelle (ed.). 7: Professional Native Indian Arts Inc. Regina: MacKenzie Art Gallery, 2013. pp. 45-69, 193-195.



Related event(s):


Roundtable discussion with four founding members of NIIPA for the exhibition, #nofilterneeded, at McMaster Museum of Art – Thursday Feb 8, 6:00 – 8:00 PM



Week 7


Tues Feb 12

Fri Feb 16


Early 1980s: New directions & discourses in Indigenous art – the emergence of the Native “modernists”


*Exhibition Review due in Friday’s class


Film: Aakideh: The Art and Legacy of Carl Beam (2010) by Paul Eichhorn & Robert Waldeck




Houle, Robert. New Work by a New Generation. Regina: MacKenzie Art Gallery, 1982. pp. 2-5.


Gray, Vivienne. “Indian Artists’ Statements Through Time”, in In the Shadow of the Sun: Perspectives on Contemporary Native Art. Hull (Gatineau): Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1993. pp. 137-163.


McMaster, Gerald. “The Anishinaabe Artistic Consciousness,” in Before and After the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes, eds. David W. Penney and Gerald McMaster. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian, DC and New York, 2013. pp. 71-105.



Week 8


Tues Feb 20

Fri Feb 23




Readings: N/A




Week 9


Tues Feb 27

Fri Mar 2


Late 1980s: Contested terrain – the politics of representation & Indigenous responses to The Spirit Sings


*Collections Assignment & Presentations in Tuesday’s class




Assembly of First Nations and Canadian Museums Association. Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples. Museum Anthropology, Vol 16, no. 2, 1992, pp. 12-20.


Harrison, Julia D., Bruce Trigger and Michael Ames. Museums and Politics: The Spirit Sings and the Lubicon Boycott – Point/Counterpoint. MUSE, Fall 1988, pp.12-16.


Vogel, Vanessa. The Glenbow Controversy and the Exhibition of North American Art. Museum Anthropology, Vol. 14, no. 4, 1990, pp. 7-11.


Hill, Tom and Karen Duffek. Beyond History. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1989. pp. 5-15 & pp. 27-38.


Pakasaar, Helga. Revisions. Banff: Walter Philips Gallery, Banff Centre for the Arts, 1992.


McMaster, Gerald. “The Politics in Native Canadian Art”, in Mandate Study, 1990-93: An Investigation of Issues Surrounding the Exhibition, Collection and Interpretation of Contemporary Art by First Nations Artists, eds. Robert Houle and Carol Podedworny. Thunder Bay: Thunder Bay Art Gallery, 1993. pp. 7-19.



Week 10


Tues Mar 6

Fri Mar 9


Early 1990s: Oka Crisis, Columbus Quincentennial and Native voice


Guest Speaker to Friday’s class: Carol Podedworny, Director/Chief Curator, McMaster Museum of Art




Martin, Lee-Ann and Gerald McMaster. INDIGENA: Contemporary Native Perspectives. Hull (Gatineau): Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1992. pp. 81-99.


McMaster, Gerald R. INDIGENA: A Native Curator’s Perspective. Art Journal, vol. 51, no. 3, Fall 1992, pp. 66-73.


Podedworny, Carol. Exhibition Review: INDIGENA and Land, Spirit, Power. C Magazine, Winter 1993, pp. 54-57.


Townsend-Gault, Charlotte. “Kinds of Knowing,” in Land, Spirit, Power: First Nations at the National Gallery of Canada, eds. Diana Nemiroff, Robert Houle and Charlotte Townsend-Gault. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1992. pp. 76-101.


Fisher, Jean. In Search of the “Inauthentic”: Disturbing Signs in Contemporary Native American Art. Art Journal, vol. 51, no. 3, Fall 1992, pp. 44-50.



Week 11


Tues Mar 13

Fri Mar 16


Late 1990s & 2000s: Indigenous art on the world stage




Hill, Greg A., Candice Hopkins and Christine Lalonde. Sakahan: international indigenous art. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada. ABC Art Books Canada, 2013. pp. 14-20.


Milroy, Sarah. “Sakahan at the National Gallery: an Aboriginal triumph.” The Globe and Mail, Ottawa, July 19, 2013. URL:


Rickard, Jolene. “The Emergence of Global Indigenous Art,” in Sakahan: international indigenous art, eds. Greg Hill et al. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada. ABC Art Books Canada, 2013. pp. 54-60.


Doxtator, Deborah. “The Implications of Canadian Nationalism for Aboriginal Cultural Autonomy,” in Curatorship: Indigenous Perspectives in Post-Colonial Societies: Proceedings, Mercury Series, Directorate Paper no. 8. Ottawa: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1996. pp. 56-69.


McMaster, Gerald. Edward Poitras: Canada XLVI Venice Biennale. Ottawa: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1995. pp. 20-38, 78-98.


Rickard, Jolene. “Rebecca Belmore: Performing Power,” in Rebecca Belmore: Fountain. ABC Art Books Canada Distribution, 2005. pp. 68-76.



Week 12


Tues Mar 20

Fri Mar 23


Current trends: Indigenous activism, sub-culture(s), music and new media art


*Research Paper Due in Friday’s class




Hopkins, Candice, Steve Loft, Lee-Ann Martin and Jenny Western. Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years, ed. Sherry Farrell Racette. Winnipeg: Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art, Plug In Editions, 2011. pp. 12-16, 88-96.


Ritter, Tania and Kathleen Willard. Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery & Grunt Gallery, 2012. pp. 9-13.


2Bears, Jackson. “My Post-Indian Technological Autobiography,” in Coded Territories: Tracing Indigenous Pathways in New Media Art, eds. Steve Loft and Kerry Swanson. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2014. pp. 1-29.


Marshall, Tabitha. Idle No More. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2013 (rev. 2015). URL:


Nanibush, Wanda. “The Earliest Adapters: Survivance in Indigenous New Media Arts.” Voz-à-voz / Voice-à-voice (online publication), Toronto: e-fagia, 2015. URL:



Week 13


Tues Mar 27

Fri Mar 30


Looking Back: 60+ years of contemporary Indigenous art history






Hill, Greg A., Candice Hopkins and Christine Lalonde. Sakahan: international indigenous art. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada. ABC Art Books Canada, 2013. pp. 136-140.


Loft, Steven. Reflections on 20 Years of Aboriginal Art. Victoria: University of Victoria, February 8, 2012. Lecture. URL:



Chartrand, Rhéanne. Unapologetic: Acts of Survivance. Hamilton, McMaster Museum of Art, 2017. URL:


Chartrand, Rhéanne. Coyote School. Hamilton, McMaster Museum of Art, 2017. URL:


Hill, Richard William. “Was Indigenous Art Better in the 1980s and Early ’90s?” Canadian Art, March 21, 2016. URL:



Week 14


Tues Apr 3

Fri Apr 6



Final Thoughts & wrap-up


*In-class final exam on Tuesday


Guest Speaker to Friday’s class: TBC


Readings: No assigned readings



Other Course Information:


This course situates the analysis of contemporary Indigenous art within the context the context of colonial and post-colonial treatments of Indigenous art as reflected and embodied in institutional approaches to the collection, presentation and interpretation of Indigenous art during the twenty-first century. Additionally, this course surveys the principal genres or “schools” of contemporary Indigenous art in Canada since the 1960s, highlighting various artistic practices and forms of creative expression employed by Indigenous artists including, but not limited to: drawing, painting, sculpture, performance, photography, film, music, and new media.

Drawing on scholarship from the fields of art history, anthropology, cultural studies, Indigenous studies and other relevant fields, this course aims to paint a complex and detailed picture of Indigenous art history in Canada. Exhibition catalogues, reviews, newspaper articles, and documentary films are also incorporated for added contextualization and to augment the instructor’s voice.



The use of cellphones during class is not permitted. Texting or browsing on your cellphone while someone is imparting knowledge is a sign of disrespect and shows that you do not value their time, knowledge and expertise. If you need to use a cellphone or any other type of electronic device as a learning aid (other than a laptop computer) during class time, please inform your instructor.

Please be on time when guest speakers are visiting class, especially when an Indigenous elder is visiting class. It reflects poorly on both you and your instructor if you arrive late. If you know you’re going to be late, please email your instructor ahead of time.

Be prepared to actively engage in classroom discussion. The pedagogical approach for this course is conversation-based learning, so it is essential that you come to class prepared to contribute your opinions and analyses of the week’s readings and themes. Everyone will benefit if all are prepared. While it is not the place of your instructor to tell you how to approach your academic career, prioritizing rest, healthy eating, moderate exercise, and having a plan by which to approach your studies and assignments will help you to manage your course load more effectively, and feel refreshed and ready to engage in classroom dialogue.