Cathy Mattes is a Michif from Southwestern Manitoba. She is a curator, writer, and Associate Professor in the History of Art at the University of Winnipeg She has worked in curatorial and consulting capacities with the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Kelowna Art Gallery, Aboriginal Curatorial Collective, Urban Shaman Gallery, Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in the past. Mattes’ curation, research and writing centers on dialogic and Indigenous knowledge-centered curatorial practice, and Indigenous art trans pedagogy as strategies for care. Her research interests include contemporary Métis and First Nations art histories, Indigenous curatorial methodologies, gender–focused art and curatorial activism.
Mattes’ doctoral dissertation “Indigenous littoral curation: a viable framework for collaborative and dialogic curatorial practice,” explores what she terms Indigenous Littoral Curation. This work looks at how littoral artists and scholars acknowledge littoral sites, the shorelines where the water meets the land, as a metaphor for dialogical and socially engaged artistic strategies that create meaningful change. Mattes identifies how certain First Nations, Métis, and Inuit curators strive to contribute to Indigenous communities and nations by centering collaborative process and dialogue. Thisprocess mirrors Indigenous research methodologies, which are grounded in Indigenous Knowledge Systems and lived experiences.
A bead worker and Southern Michif language learner, Mattes has been a mentor in organized mentorship programs over 15 times to university students, and emerging curators and artists. She has led many workshops in beadwork, moccasin-making, Indigenous research methodologies, art education, and exhibition proposal and grant-writing workshops. She has also contributed over 50 publications as a curator, exhibition guest writer, and book chapter contributor in her career.
Examples of some curatorial projects are: Kwaata-nihtaawakihk – A Hard Birth (Co-curated with Sherry Farrell Racette, March 19- September 3, 2022 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery), and Radical Stitch (Co-curated with Sherry Farrell Racette and Michelle Lavallee, April 30 – August 28, 2022 at the Mackenzie Art Gallery).
Mattes, C. “Wahkootowin, Beading and Métis Kitchen Table Talk: Indigenous Knowledge and Strategies for Curating Care” in Radicalizing Care, Feminist and Queer Activism in Curating, edited by Elke Krasny, Sophie Lingg, et al. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2021.
Mattes, C. “Frontrunners as an Exploration of Indigenous Littoral Curation,” in Indigenous Methodologies, edited by Heather Igloliorte and Carla Taunton. London: Routledge Press, 2022.
Mattes, C. “Calls to Action for a Lazy Academy” in RACAR, Journal of the University Art Association of Canada, UAAC, 45(2019): 81-82.
Mattes, C. “Katherine Boyer, Water Meets Body, Heart Feels Home”, Gallery 1C03 exhibition catalogue, Winnipeg, MB, 2019.
Mattes, C. “’Winnipeg, Where It All Began’”-Rhetorical and Visual Sovereignty in the Formation of the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.” in 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. Regina: Mackenzie Art Gallery, 2014.