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New faculty member in 2021-22: Dr. Cathy Mattes

Wed. Mar. 30, 2022

The Faculty of Arts is pleased to welcome new faculty members in several departments this year including: Criminal Justice; English; History; Political Science; Psychology; Religion and Culture; Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications; Sociology; Theatre and Film; and Urban and Inner-City Studies.

We're asking each of our new faculty members to introduce themselves by providing us with a brief profile highlighting their research, a list of courses they'll teach, and a photo. That way we'll recognize them when we meet them in the halls on campus or in Zoom meetings online.

Dr. Cathy Mattes (Art History)

Dr. Cathy MattesDr. Cathy Mattes co-curated (with Sherry Farrell Racette) "Kwaata-nihtaawakihk – A Hard Birth," which opened in March at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
photo supplied)

Today, we feature Dr. Cathy Mattes, who is a Michif (Southwest Manitoba) curator, writer, and is Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Mattes holds a PhD from the University of Manitoba. Dr. Mattes' extensive experience as a curator is reflected in her writing, teaching, and in the important role she takes in mentoring others.

Dr. Mark Meuwese, Chair of the Department of History, states: “We are very excited that Cathy Mattes joined the History department as Associate Professor in Art History. Her expertise in Métis and Indigenous art greatly strengthens our History of Art program.”

Please join us all in welcoming Dr. Mattes to the Faculty of Arts. And thank you to her for providing her profile info and photo.


Dr. Cathy Mattes is a Michif (Southwest Manitoba) curator, writer, and Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Winnipeg. Mattes previously taught art history in Ishkaabatens Waasa Gaa Inaabateg, Department of Visual Art. She also taught for the Gender and Women Studies program at Brandon University, and is an adjunct faculty member in Graduate Studies at OCADU. She is a beadworker, Southern Michif language learner, and holds a PhD in Indigenous Studies from the University of Manitoba.

Mattes’ curation, research and writing centers on dialogic and Indigenous knowledge-centered curatorial practice, and Indigenous art transpedagogy as strategies for care. Several examples of curatorial projects are: Kwaata-nihtaawakihk – A Hard Birth (Co-curated with Sherry Farrell Racette, which opened March 2022 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery), Radical Stitch (Co-curated with Sherry Farrell Racette and Michelle Lavallee, opening April 2022 at the Mackenzie Art Gallery), Inheritance: Amy Malbeuf (2017, Kelowna Art Gallery), and Frontrunners (2011, Urban Shaman Gallery and Plug-In ICA). She has curated over 50 exhibitions as a freelance curator and as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba between 2003 and 2005. She has contributed artistically to several exhibitions and projects, most recently Pasapkedjinawong: the river that passes through the rocks (Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, June-September 2021), and Ways of Telling -  Performance with Leah Decter (University of British Columbia Okanagan Summer Institute, Kelowna BC, 2016).

Mattes has served on over 30 university, community, and arts organization committees, and was/is a consultant, board member or advisory council member for various arts organizations including the Indigenous Advisory Council for the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Advisory Council for the Indigenous Curatorial Collective, board member for Urban Shaman Gallery, and board mentor for Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art. She 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.

Mattes has contributed writings to over 50 publications as a curator, exhibition guest writer, and book chapter contributor. She has written for the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe New Mexico, Portage and Main Press, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, to name a select few. More recently, she contributed chapters to several books edited by esteemed Indigenous and non-Indigenous art historians and curators, with reputable publishers like Routledge, Sternberg Press and ARP Books. As well, Mattes has presented over 100 lectures nationally and internationally as a panelist, keynote speaker, and round table organizer at universities, art galleries, and academic and visual art conferences and symposiums.

Courses (University of Winnipeg)

• Rethinking Canadian Art – HIST-2801
• Curatorial Practicum – HIST-4831/GENG-7131/GHIST-7122
• Cultures of the Past - Miyeu Pimaatshiwin, Beading, and Métis Kitchen Table Talk – HIST-4815/GENG-7820/GHIST-7001

While at Brandon University Mattes taught over 75 courses on Indigenous historic and contemporary art, issues in western historic and contemporary art, gender issues and art, and Indigenous studio techniques.

Research interests

Contemporary Métis and First Nations art histories, Indigenous curatorial pedagogies and praxis that center relationality and dialogue, gender–focused art and curatorial activism, Indigenous knowledge creation and transmission within contemporary art, curatorial practices, and post-secondary systems, strategy development to decolonize and Indigenize western art histories and the academy.

Publications (Selected)

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, 2021.

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.


Mattes, C. Inheritance – Amy Malbeuf, online curatorial text. Kelowna: Kelowna Art Gallery, 2017.

Mattes, C. Presence-Steve Gouthro, curatorial text and production. Brandon: Brandon University, 2016.

Mattes, C. “Crème Moitié Moitié”, curatorial text for Crème Moitié Moitié, St. Boniface: Maison des Artistes, 2008.

Mattes, C.“Lionel Peyachew – Making Art Function” in Art-It-Fact II, curatorial text and production. Brandon and Winnipeg: Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba and Urban Shaman Gallery, 2004.

Mattes, C. “Victims, Victors and Vehicles” in Blanket[ed], co-written with Jonathan Jones and production. Winnipeg: Urban Shaman Gallery, 2003.

Curatorial Projects (Selected)

Radical Stich, Co-curators Sherry Farrell Racette & Michelle Lavallee, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, opening April 2022, (international touring exhibition)

A Hard Birth, Co-curator Sherry Farrell Racette, Winnipeg Art Gallery, opening March 2022

Amy Malbeuf: Inheritances, Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, BC, 2017

Never Forgotten: Reflections on Walking With Our Sisters, Co-curator with Natalia Lebedinskaia, Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Brandon MB, 2016

My Winnipeg, (Curatorial Team member), Plug-In ICA, Winnipeg, MB, 2012

Frontrunners, Urban Shaman Gallery & Plug-In ICA, Winnipeg, MB, three group exhibitions, 2011

BlancheInternational Artistic Intervention, KC Adams (Manitoba) & Jonathon Jones, (Australia), Chalk Horse Gallery, Sydney Australia, 2007

SSHRCC grants

2019-Present – Co-investigator, “The Space Between Us”, SSHRC partnership grant with Indigenous curators from Canada, New Zealand, Australia, & Norway

2014 – Participant, Networked Art History Project Gathering, University of Winnipeg, initiated by Concordia University

2011 – Collaborator, The Contemporary Art History Project, SSHRC funded research project