Songs of a Secret Country

July 20, 2017 – April 8, 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.

Carol McGregor: Repositories of Recognition

January 19 – May 13, 2018

Carol McGregor is an Indigenous Australian artist of Wathaurung and Scottish descent. In her exhibition Repositories of Recognition, she has constructed an installation from tea towels and natural possum skins. Since the 1950s, linen tea towels produced for the tourist trade have either stolen Aboriginal designs or misrepresented Aboriginal people as “primitive.” McGregor collected them, cut them up and reconstructed them as aprons, subverting the original meaning by turning them inside out and embroidering her own messages on top of them. To this she added a series of bags made from natural possum skins. Possum skins were historically sewn together into cloaks for practical purposes (as coats, blankets, baby wraps or rugs in winter), but were also incised and painted with sacred designs, serving as containers of Indigenous identity. By placing these two textile artworks in conversation with each other, McGregor exposes the harm done by the ongoing misrepresentation of her identity in the tea towels, while also making a statement about the complex and sophisticated identities mapped on possum skins.

Carol McGregor will visit Charlottesville February 1 – 27 as an artist-in-residence in partnership with Australia Council for the Arts. She holds a Bachelor’s in Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art and Fine Art from the Queensland College of Art, as well as a Doctorate in Philosophy from Griffith University. Her work is held in major public and private collections in Australia.

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.