Songs of a Secret Country

July 20, 2017 – July 1, 2018

This exhibition comprises contemporary paintings and sculpture by Indigenous Australian artists from various regions across the Australian continent, from the central desert to coastal regions and islands. Centering on the theme of “country,” the artworks sing melodies of ancestors and land, creation and power, history and memory, community and identity. In caring for and painting their ancestral terrain and home places, Aboriginal artists acknowledge the countless memories already lived and those to come.

Songs of a Secret Country was curated by five students from universities across the United States. As part of the UVA Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative, this project trains a new generation of curators to address the pressing lack of diversity in museum practice. The artworks represented are a recent gift to the Kluge-Ruhe Collection by philanthropists Stephen and Agatha Luczo of California.

The Mysteries That Remain: Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri

Damien Shen, Self-Portrait #2, 2014.
May 26 – August 27, 2017

One of Australia’s most acclaimed Indigenous artists, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri was a founder of the Western Desert art movement. The Mysteries that Remain is the first museum survey of Namarari’s work, featuring paintings on canvas and board from 1971-1990. It reveals the depth and complexity of Namarari’s artistic experiments as he restlessly strove to present the ancestral narratives of his desert homelands in new and innovative ways. This exhibition sheds new light on this enigmatic and important artist as he moved from detailed figurative works through to grand abstractions. A quiet, reserved man, happy to be in the background, this exhibition places Namarari in his rightful place as contemporary master.

Kluge-Ruhe on Grounds


On view in the lobby of the Fralin Museum of Art is an acrylic painting by David Hall Tjangala. A selection of seventeen objects, including sculpture, bark paintings and musical instruments are on display in the Fralin’s Object Study Gallery on the second floor.

Through December 2017

On view in the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library is an exhibition of twenty-one sculptures and prints by contemporary Indigenous artists that celebrates the central importance of the ocean to human life and responds to its current threats. In northeastern Australia, plastic abandoned fishing nets are trapping and killing the rich array of marine life, eventually drifting to the bottom of the sea, suffocating the seabed and coral reefs. To raise awareness about the long-term damage to marine environment caused by these “ghost nets,” Indigenous artists from Pormpuraaw are repurposing the nets into sculptures for the fine art market.