Kent Monkman discusses sexuality and gender within his painting practice, including the evolution of his shape-shifting, time-traveling, gender-fluid alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle. He will discuss his practice’s exploration of colonized sexuality, its challenge to the Romantic North American paintings of the 19th century, and the impact of genocidal Canadian policies on Indigenous people through his national touring exhibition Shame and Prejudice. Monkman will touch on the central role Miss Chief plays in his works, in which she serves as witness and narrator of various histories.
Kent Monkman is a visual and performance artist of Cree and Irish ancestry whose work reimagines historical narratives to include the indigenous lives they have consistently erased. Monkman’s alter-ego is Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, who is featured prominently in his work and time-travels to redirect history. With Miss Chief, Monkman shifts the perspective of the story away from those who often do the telling, giving her authority instead. Time is often skewed, and time frames bleed into each other in his work with overlapping scenes from different historical periods, so the viewer often experiences multiple perspectives at once. Monkman pulls from the narratives of ancient and modern art history, mythology, and the Bible, and he fills the gaps in their stories with his own content, reaffirming an indigenous presence in history. Monkman currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, where his exhibition, Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, was commissioned for display at the University of Toronto art museum as a celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. This exhibit reflected on colonialism and traditional Western museum practices, highlighting their relationships with Indigenous histories in Canada.
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