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.
"I'm Not Myself at All offers fascinating discussions of the work of many previously unknown or overlooked artists, while making a significant contribution to the interpretation of better-known artists such as Emily Carr, Helen McNicoll, and Frances Anne
"I'm Not Myself at All lightly and deftly employs the insights of feminist thinking to realize a fresh and complex account of women in various Canadian art histories, an account that dispenses with the preoccupations of national styles and avant-garde gam
"A heady, scholarly tour-de-force that recasts our understanding of the work of female artists by considering the extent to which they themselves are both absent and present in the products of their creative labours." National Gallery of Canada Magazine
" ... a beautifully crafted object, with 147 high-quality color plates and details that do much to support Huneault's close reading. I'm Not Myself at All: Women, Art, and Subjectivity in Canada promises to reinvigorate discussions about feminist art hist