SUMMA 2023 tells the story of McMaster’s graduating class of studio artists
The 2023 class of studio arts takes on intersectionality and decolonization through their graduating exhibit at the McMaster Museum of Art
Where We Intersect: Identities, Environments, Activisms has a focus on the stories of the artists. They each created works that fall into one or more of these three realms. The media of the exhibit is made up of a large variety, including drawings, paintings, photographs, installations, printmaking sculptures, projections and sound based works. The aim of the exhibit is to exemplify the newer generation’s resilience in the face of a global pandemic, violence, environmental devastation and existential angst.
“It's a very turbulent time that we're in and I think that this work conveys a kind of a sober, but also a hopeful kind of collective inquiry into how do we cultivate resilience in these turbulent times,” said Mosa McNeilly curator of SUMMA 2023.
McNeilly first met with the students in January to begin preparations for the exhibit. The first meeting was dedicated time for studio arts students to consult with McNeilly on their progress on their pieces and to plan an overarching theme for the exhibit. The students came up with the title, Where we Intersect, and after consulting with them she decided on the subtitle, Identities, Environments, Activisms.
The title is a very important aspect of the exhibit. For SUMMA 2023, it was important to the artists to explore intersection and intersectionality. The students of this exhibit were aware of this concept and as they discussed their positionality within current society, the conversation sparked the finality of the theme of the exhibit.
“There's an intersectional ethic in how [the students are] seeking to understand their relationships with each other and in their analyses of how they position themselves in terms of race, place, ability, spirituality, sexual orientation, gender and ethnicity,” said McNeilly.
The students in this exhibit truly impressed McNeilly over the time she has spent working with them. She believes they took the many forms of media to accentuate their own thoughts. Moreover, she was impressed at how they all had a focus on decolonization within their work.
They each had ideas for how they wanted their work to be presented and to step away from traditional practices. It gave her hope that the future generation of artists will embrace intersectionality in their work and question their position relative to it.
“What I find compelling about this group of emerging artists is [that there is] impetus towards decolonizing . . . [The students] were not interested in conventional, formal museum aesthetics, some of them, they wanted to push against those standards of presentation,” said McNeilly.