THE TRULY MADE THINGS OF NADIA MYRE, Exhibition Essay, McLaren Art Centre

Colette Tougas


I believe very deeply that works of art, or let’s say things in the world, not just works of art, can be truly made. If they are truly made, in the sense of possessing themselves, then they are beautiful... The idea of the truly made does not only have to do with truth. It has to do with the meeting of material and non-material... [A] thing exists in the world because it has mythological, psychological and philosophical coherence. That is when a thing is truly made... 

—Homi K. Bhabha1


I remember hearing, several years ago, the American writer Spalding Gray in a radio interview during a literary festival somewhere in the United States. Gray mentioned having met Susan Sontag on that occasion and retold a conversation they had. She said that she always wrote from the same feeling and she was convinced that this was true of all writers. In her case it was from a feeling of loss and in Gray’s, if my memory serves me right, it was from anger.

I believe it is possible to apply this conception of a writer’s motivation to artists of all disciplines. However elusive it is, this basis in one’s own genesis gives a work its truly made feel or its soundness, if you will.

Nadia Myre has written that it is through the experience of claiming her mother’s and her own Native Status in 1997 that the exploration of her identity as a native woman took precedence in her work. She also noted that, as colonized peoples, the First Nations share a common experience of suffering and shame that she, as an artist, manifests and deconstructs in participatory works where she uses and explores her ancestors’ traditions. One could argue that this is the backdrop against which Myre designs and builds very contemporary manifestations of her primary concerns. ...