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I'm Not Myself at All: Women, Art, and Subjectivity in Canada

$65.00


Author: Kristina Huneault
Hardcover, 400 pages
McGill-Queen's University Press, 2018

Notions of identity have long structured women’s art. Dynamics of race, class, and gender have shaped the production of artworks and oriented their subsequent reassessments. Arguably, this is especially true of art by women, and of the socially engaged criticism that addresses it. If identity has been a problem in women’s art, however, is more identity the solution?

In this study of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art in Canada, Kristina Huneault offers a meditation on the strictures of identity and an exploration of forces that unsettle and realign the self. Looking closely at individual artists and works, Huneault combines formal analysis with archival research and philosophical inquiry, building nuanced readings of objects that range from the canonical to the largely unknown. Whether in miniature portraits or genre paintings, botanical drawings or baskets, women artists reckoned with constraints that limited understandings of themselves and others. They also forged creative alternatives. At times identity features in women’s artistic work as a failed project; at other times it marks a boundary beyond which they were able to expand, explore, and exult.

Bringing together settler and indigenous forms of cultural expression and foregrounding the importance of colonialism within the development of art in Canada, I’m Not Myself at All observes and reactivates historical art by women and prompts readers to consider what a less restrictive conceptualization of selfhood might bring to current patterns of cultural analysis.

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