Exhibitions/ The Great Hall Commission: Kent Monkman, mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People)

The Great Hall Commission: Kent Monkman, mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People)

At The Met Fifth Avenue
December 19, 2019–April 9, 2020
This exhibition is free and open to the public.

Exhibition Overview

Kent Monkman has been selected to create two monumental paintings for The Met's Great Hall. Monkman, born in Canada in 1965, is a Cree artist widely known for his provocative interventions into Western European and American art history. He explores themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience—the complexities of historic and contemporary Indigenous experiences—across a variety of mediums, including painting, film, performance, and installation. Monkman's gender-fluid alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, often appears 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.

This installation is part of a new series of contemporary commissions at The Met in which the Museum invites artists to create new works of art inspired by the collection, establishing a dialogue between the artist's work, the collection, the space, and audiences.

"Stupendous. . . . Miss Chief is an avatar of a global future that will see humankind moving beyond the wars of identity—racial, sexual, political—in which it is now perilously immersed." —New York Times

"Monkman's paintings offer both a revision of the past and a look into the future." —Artnet News

"Fills the gaps in traditional paintings with powerful commentary on the Indigenous experience and colonialism." —CBC

"His most sophisticated work yet." —Globe and Mail

"Suggests the museum's willingness to self-reflect and consider its own collection with a critical eye." —Hyperallergic

The installation is made possible by Marilyn and Charles Baillie and Rosamond Ivey.

Additional support is provided by the Hal Jackman Foundation and the Director's Fund.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in The Great Hall

Artist Interview

"I wanted to bring Indigenous experience into this canon of art history." Go behind the scenes with the artist as he discusses the inspiration and making of mistikôsiwak.

Miss Chief Eagle Testickle

"I wanted a persona to really reflect our point of view at the time that colonial policies were beginning." Listen to Monkman discuss his alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle.

Exhibition Objects

Welcoming the Newcomers

A painting of an island with Indigenous people helping shipwrecked settlers and slaves ashore

Kent Monkman (Cree, b. 1965). Welcoming the Newcomers, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 132 x 264 in. (335.28 x 670.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist

Resurgence of the People

A painting of a crowded boat being rowed through choppy waters, with a woman standing at the bow holding forward a feather

Kent Monkman (Cree, b. 1965). Resurgence of the People, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 132 x 264 in. (335.28 x 670.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist

Reversing Art History's Colonial Gaze

The artist Kent Monkman, wearing a black suit and jacket, stands in the Neoclassical Great Hall

Monkman's two paintings contain many references to works of art in The Met collection. In this blog post, curator Randall Griffey breaks down how the artist revisits and challenges the history of art. Read now.

Kent Monkman (Cree, b. 1965). Welcoming the Newcomers (detail), 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 132 x 264 in. (335.28 x 670.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist