A clear plastic book is spread open, with what appears to be shavings of beige, brown, and grey rock embedded under the pages. At the top left of the page is a clear embossed letter L. A clear plastic book is spread open, with what appears to be shavings of beige, brown, and grey rock embedded under the pages. At the top left of the page is a clear embossed letter L.

Tim Whiten
Elemental: Ethereal

Tim Whiten’s prolific career and extensive creative practice reflects his broad-ranging metaphysical interests. This solo exhibition features a selection of early to recent work – from the late 1970s onward – exploring Whiten’s ongoing investigations into the nature of consciousness and its effect on the world. In his over fifty years of creating cultural objects, Whiten has come to understand creativity as an essentially spiritual activity, inspired by ancient mythologies and processes of material transformation. He frequently works with glass, a precarious medium he has used skillfully since the 1980s, highlighting its luminosity and transparency as a key to infinity and divine knowledge. His use of viscerally-charged organic materials (including wood, bone, hair and leather) unite the everyday with the esoteric and extends to two and three-dimensional forms, site specific works, ritual performances and mixed-media installations.

Elemental is part of an expanded, multi-venue retrospective and collaborative publication of Tim Whiten’s career developed between the Art Gallery of Peterborough, Art Gallery of York University, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, and McMaster Museum of Art from 2022 to 2023. This series of curated exhibition projects are thematically united by the classical elements of air, water, earth, and fire – referencing Whiten’s interest in alchemical practices. Elemental: Ethereal touches on aspects of the air element with its associations to the celestial, ephemeral and intangible. Here, evocative three-dimensional works mediate transcendence and transformative states of being, marking the passages between life and death towards the eternal. Whiten’s profound understanding of relics, sacred symbols, magic and ancestral knowledge are unbounded by time and space, emphasizing the importance of spiritual illumination and wonder throughout human existence.

Tim Whiten was born in Inkster, Michigan in 1941. In 1964, he received a B.S. from Central Michigan University, College of Applied Arts and Science, and in 1966 completed his M.F.A. at the University of Oregon, School of Architecture and Allied Arts. After immigrating to Canada in 1968, he taught in the Department of Visual Arts at York University for 39 years. An award-winning educator, he was also Chair of the University’s Department of Visual Arts where he is currently Professor Emeritus. Since 1962, he has had work presented in exhibitions throughout North America and internationally and it is included in numerous private, public, and corporate collections, such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (both the de Young and the Legion of Honor/ Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts). Based in Toronto, Tim Whiten is represented by Olga Korper Gallery.

Watch now: Tim Whiten in Conversation with Erika DeFreitas

The museum acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council.

Ontario Arts Council logo

Image: Tim Whiten, [detail] Book of Light: Containing Poetry from the Heart of God, 2015-2016. Handcrafted crystal clear glass, burnt fragments of drawings (coffee and pencil on handmade paper), oak, 118.1 (h/l) x 71.1 (w) x 38.1 (d) cm. Courtesy of Tim Whiten and Olga Korper Gallery. Photo Credit: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Curated by: Pamela Edmonds

February 10, 2022 – May 13, 2022

Link to Exhibitions Archive for a complete list of past exhibitions


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To promote and stimulate learning, interest and continued enjoyment about the visual arts, the Museum will organize an annual programme of temporary exhibitions for presentation year round.

Exhibition proposals/submissions are accepted on an on-going basis.

The Director/Curator will select and establish the annual exhibition programme in collaboration with the curatorial team. An exhibition schedule will be presented by the Director/Curator to the Advisory Board of the Museum once each year


Proposals are accepted from artists and curators.


10-20 digital images, project description, and CV.

View digital image requirements


Carol Podedworny, Director and Curator
McMaster Museum of Art
University Ave, McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L6


The McMaster Museum of Art is a third party recommender for Ontario Arts Council (OAC) Exhibition Assistance Grants.

The 2023-24 Exhibition Assistance Program opens on June 7, 2023, and closes on January 16, 2024. Our deadlines for the programming year are:

  • September 7, 2023, 1 p.m. ET
  • December 7, 2023, 1 p.m. ET


Please follow the guidelines established by the Ontario Arts Council, apply directly through their website, and submit the following with your applications:

Brief artist statement
Confirmation letter from the gallery/museum/venue
Digital images of work