Past Exhibitions at Kluge-Ruhe

having-been-there by Nici Cumpston


Nici Cumpston, Leopard Tree II, 2011.
January 17 – May 18, 2014

In the spring of 2014 the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of U.Va. is exhibiting the work of Indigenous Australian Nici Cumpston, an artist and curator from Adelaide, of Barkindji, Afghan, Irish and English heritage.

having-been-there is a series of images created by Cumpston to document the evidence of Aboriginal occupation in Australia before European settlement. Tree engravings, ring trees, and remnants of stone tools abound in Barkindji land. These act as subtle signifiers of the ancestors that once lived in and created the country, and of food and water sources that ensured survival. They also serve as undeniable proof of Aboriginal people “having been there,” before and amidst the colonial assertion of terra nullius, the idea that Australia was a “land without people.” Additionally they are records of the Murray-Darling Basin river system’s natural beauty, as well as its gradual destruction from pollution, salination, and re-routing.

Sponsored by

Australia Council for the Arts

Black Prints from Cicada Press


Black Prints from Cicada Press in USA
Black Prints from Cicada Press provides glimpses into the art practices of a variety of artists from across Australia. Some of the artworks are narrative-based, some are stories of memory, identity and tradition. Others should be considered conceptual art, albeit with a particular Australian Aboriginal twist.

The title is a word play on the Australian childhood summer obsession of collecting cicada carcasses. ‘Greengrocers’ are the most common and many of their carcasses can be traded for just one carcass of the rare and highly prized ‘Black Prince.’

Cicada Press is an educationally focused printmaking workshop at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales (COFA UNSW) in Sydney that places emphasis on open dialogue and the importance of lived experience in learning. Since 2006 Michael Kempson, director of Cicada Press, and Tess Allas, curator of Black Prints, have invited emerging and established Aboriginal artists to explore printmaking as an artistic practice in the form of workshops and residencies. Some of the artists were experienced printmakers, while others explored the medium for the first time. The result is an eclectic but meaningful exhibition addressing the contemporary Aboriginal experience in Australia today, by artists such as Gordon Hookey, Vernon Ah Kee, Reko Rennie and Laurel Nannup.

experimental beds at the Harrison Institute

Judy Watson, experimental beds #1, 2011. Copyright Judy Watson, image courtesy grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane. experimental beds, an exhibition of six prints by Indigenous Australian artist Judy Watson (Waanyi), was on view in the South Gallery of the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture of U.Va. from August 2012 through August 2013

Judy Watson visited the University of Virginia in October 2011 as an artist-in-residence at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. Inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s architectural drawings of the Academical Village, Watson developed a set of etchings in collaboration with Professor Dean Dass and advanced printmaking students in U.Va.‘s print workshop. The resulting prints incorporate Jefferson’s drawings of the Rotunda and Pavilions along with Watson’s sketches of artifacts unearthed at Monticello’s Mulberry Row and vegetables grown in Jefferson’s “experimental beds.”

The project was co-published by the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, the artist and grahame galleries + editions in Brisbane.

The South Gallery is located on the first floor of the Harrison Institute/Special Collections Library on McCormick Road. Click here for the hours of the Harrison Institute.

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