Starting Thursday (December 19) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Great Hall, two monumental paintings by Toronto’s Fisher River Cree Nation artist Kent Monkman will be on display, The Met announced. The inaugural Great Hall Commission, titled “mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People),” joins the New York City cultural institution’s new series of contemporary art commissions.
Monkman, whose paintings, films and performances reimagine Western European and American art history, explores themes of colonization, loss, resilience and sexuality through Indigenous experiences. Both paintings, “Welcoming the Newcomers” and “Resurgence of the People,” feature Monkman’s gender-fluid alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, whom The Met wrote appeared in his work “as a time-traveling, shape-shifting, supernatural being who reverses the colonial gaze to challenge received notions of history and Indigenous peoples.”
"I wanted a persona to really reflect our point of view at the time that colonial policies were beginning," Monkman said of Miss Chief, in an interview with The Met. Dismantling the dominant Western narrative was of great interest to Monkman, who said, “I became very interested in European painting when I realized that there was an opportunity to paint Indigenous histories and experiences and authorize them into this art history that had pretty much neglected our perspectives.”
“mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People)” will be on display through April 9, 2020.
To learn more about how Monkman uses art to tell indigenous stories, listen to the interview below, courtesy of The Met: