Recent News at Kluge-Ruhe
On Saturday, March 19th, 2016 the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia will present an evening fashion performance titled “Culture Couture” at the Jefferson Theater. This project, sponsored by the U.Va. Arts Council, the Embassy of Australia, the U.Va. Parents Committee, the U.Va. Department of Drama, and the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, will introduce Charlottesville to Indigenous Australian fashion and the remarkable creativity of U.Va. students.
Lauren Maupin, Education and Program Coordinator at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, was first exposed to Indigenous fashion during a trip to Australia in the summer of 2014. She attended a fashion performance at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair that showcased the colorful, contemporary, and unique textiles and designs being produced by Indigenous Australian artists. “I was overwhelmed and impressed by the ease with which the artists transferred their designs to the new medium of fabric and the context of a runway. Given that U.Va. has no fashion program, I felt Kluge-Ruhe could fill a need for students by bringing the two together.”
To realize this goal, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection created a fashion design contest in January 2015, prompting students to submit original sketches for garments which would honor Indigenous hand-printed textiles as artworks themselves. Marcy Linton in the Department of Drama agreed to offer an advanced course in Costume Technology (DRAM4598) in which students would fabricate the winning designs. After receiving numerous sketched designs, Maupin and Linton selected ten and paired them with fabric from four different communities in northern Australia: Babbarra Women’s Corporation, Injalak Arts and Crafts, Erub Erwer Meta, and Merrepen Arts. Alison Copley, an Australian arts and fashion professional, consulted on the project.
Patterns were made by Linton and Dorothy Smith, Costume Shop Supervisor in the Department of Drama, and local seamstress Beth Neville Evans. Seven students from various disciplines enrolled in Linton’s course and successfully constructed their garments during the Fall 2015 semester. Part of the course involved learning about Indigenous Australian art and culture through visits to the Kluge-Ruhe Collection and by skyping with textile artists in one of the communities where the fabric was made.
Olivia Tritschler, who designed and fabricated a pant suit for Culture Couture, said: “As a Global Developmental Studies major, this project has enabled me to pursue my interest in fashion and cultivate an appreciation for cultures that are different from my own. It intrigued me to learn more about the designs of my fabric and how some of them were so important to the artists that they couldn’t be shared. I am honored that I get to be a part of bringing these unique and contemporary cultural traditions to a wider audience in an innovative and respectful way.”
In addition to showing the student designs, the fashion performance will also feature garments and accessories made by leading Indigenous designers specifically for Culture Couture. The performance will feature eight to ten looks by Nicole Monks (Wajarri Yamatji), a Sydney based designer of Aboriginal, Dutch and English heritage who founded the company ‘blackandwhite creative’ to weave Aboriginal philosophies of sustainability, innovation and collaboration into art, interior design, and fashion.
The show will also feature a collaborative portfolio by Lucy Simpson (Yuwaalaraay), a textile designer, and Julie Shaw (Yuwaalaraay), a fashion designer. Simpson is Artistic Director and Principal Designer of the textile label Gaawaa Miyay, which she founded in 2009. Shaw recently launched her label Mayrah, which combines inspiration from her home country with a luxe fashion aesthetic.
Finally, the show will also include the famous ‘weaves,’ or woven necklaces of Grace Lillian Lee. She also runs her own label, Jetty Love, which includes couture garments that highlight the weaves, and are inspired by the landscapes of north Queensland, the Torres Strait Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.
Music trio Biliirr, featuring Lucy Simpson and her sisters Nardi Simpson and Jilda Andrews (Yuwaalaraay), will give their first American performance as part of the evening’s celebration of Indigenous creativity. Singer-songwriter Nardi Simpson performed at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection in 2001 as a member of The Stiff Gins. Jilda Andrews is a museum practitioner at National Museum Australia and a Ph.D. candidate at Australian National University. Performing as Biliirr (“bill-ear” translated as black cockatoo) they offer audiences a gift of country through song and story.
Tickets for Culture Couture go on sale on Monday, February 1st through the U.Va. Box Office at $12 per regular admission ticket. Kluge-Ruhe members receive a discounted ticket of $10 and tickets are free for U.Va. Students with Arts$.
What is America’s first music? Tracing a heartfelt journey, award-winning filmmaker Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Creek) interweaves the tale of a mysterious death in 1962 with the rich history of the powerful hymns that have united the Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole communities in times of worship, joy, tragedy, and hope. By investigating the stories of these songs, this illuminating film explores a Muscogee singing tradition rooted in Scottish mission hymns and African slave spirituals.
See the trailer
The film will be screened on Saturday, January 30 at 1 pm at Newcomb Hall Theater. A panel discussion with Sterlin Harjo and reception will follow. It is free and open to the public.
This event has been sponsored by the U.Va. Office of Diversity and Equity, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, the U.Va. Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, U.Va. Department of Anthropology, McIntire Department of Music, and the Native American Student Union as part of the MLK Community Celebration.
Three dancers who are graduates of Australia’s leading Indigenous dance college will visit Charlottesville in early February as guests of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection and the University of Virginia’s Dance Program. Dancers Taree Sansbury, Thomas E. S. Kelly, and Hans Ahwang, and Carole Johnson, Artistic Director Emeritus and founder of NAISDA Dance College, are in the United States for six weeks as part of an international exchange program. While in Charlottesville, they will work with U.Va. students in ‘Modern Dance II’ and ‘Dance and Culture’ and showcase contemporary Indigenous dance for the public during First Fridays at McGuffey Art Center on February 5 at 6:00 and 7:00 pm in Studio 11. They will also offer a workshop on Saturday, February 6th from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm for community members ages 12 and up. Registration is required and there is a $10 fee for the workshop. Please register here.
Carole Johnson is an American-born graduate of Julliard and performed as a soloist with Eleo Pomare Dance Company in New York. She established NYC’s Dancemobile and founded dance magazine FEET. Johnson went to Australia with Pomare Company in 1972 and remained there to establish contemporary Indigenous dance, which fuses contemporary dance with Aboriginal traditional dance. She founded NAISDA (National Aboriginal/Islander Skills Development Association) Dance College and Bangarra Dance Theatre. Johnson was installed in the Australian Dance Hall of Fame in 1999 and was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2003 in recognition of service to Australian society and the Indigenous community through dance.
Thomas ES Kelly (Wiradjuri and Bundjalung) Graduating from NAISDA Dance College in 2012, Kelly has performed in Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. Most recently he performed in Vicki Van Hout’s “Long Grass” at the 2015 Sydney Festival at the Seymour Centre and the 2015 Dance Massive Festival in Melbourne.
Taree Sansbury (Kaurna, Narungga and Ngarrindjeri) An emerging freelance artist and NAISDA Dance College Graduate, Sansbury worked most recently with Martin Del Amo during the first development of his new work, Champions, followed by a season performing in Victoria Hunt’s latest work, Tangi Wai, for Liveworks Festival at Carriageworks in late October 2015.
Hans Ahwang (Moa Island, Torres Strait) A 2014 NAISDA College graduate, Hans works as an independent artist and has performed across Australia, in Fiji and Taiwan. His film and television credits include Wonderland, Redfern Now and Old School.
This program has been supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Arts NSW, McGuffey Art Center, NAISDA Dance College and the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts.
Indigenous Dance Showcase
Friday, February 5, 2016, 6:00 and 7:00 pm, Studio 11
McGuffey Art Center
201 Second Street NW
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Dance Workshop for ages 12+
Saturday, February 6, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
From October 24 – November 6, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection of U.Va. will host renowned artist and community leader Djambawa Marawili AM (Yolngu), a painter, sculptor and printmaker from Yirrkala in Arnhem Land, Australia. His residency, sponsored by Australia Council for the Arts, will provide a variety of exciting, interdisciplinary opportunities to meet the artist and learn about Yolngu art, law and culture.
Djambawa Marawili AM is an acclaimed artist and principal ceremonial leader of the Madarrpa clan of the Yolngu people. In 1996 he won the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award for the Best Bark Painting for a painting that is in the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. A leader in the interface between non-Aboriginal and Yolngu people, Marawili led a successful campaign resulting in federal recognition of Yolngu sea rights in 2008. He was chosen by the Australian Prime Minister as a member of the National Indigenous Advisory Panel in 2013 and was named a Member of the Order of Australia.
Marawili uses art as a tool in his practice as a cultural leader, and many of his artworks express the deep connection of Yolngu people to water and sea. He says “I want people to understand it’s not just a colorful or beautiful show of paintings but it has a meaning and is a document of my country.”
Director of the Kluge-Ruhe Collection Margo Smith said, “Djambawa’s authority, as a Yolngu leader, adds tremendous significance to his artwork, which is both based on traditional knowledge and innovative in its design. Alongside other artists of his generation, Djambawa has brought bark painting to the contemporary art world and raised the international profile of Indigenous Australian art.”
Marawili’s residency provides a unique opportunity for U.Va. students and the Charlottesville community to learn from an Indigenous Australian leader and artist. He will briefly discuss his work at a reception on Thursday, October 29th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, using the works on view in his exhibition at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection titled where the water rests, where it moves. Djambawa will sing the traditional song that accompanies the paintings in the exhibition, and two of his hollow log sculptures will also be unveiled as additions to the exhibition.
On Saturday, October 31 Marawili will give a full tour of the exhibition of his works at 10:30 am. He will also give a public artist talk in the Environmental Sciences department at U.Va. on Tuesday, November 3 at 4:00 pm, in which he will discuss his art practice and its relationship to environmental knowledge and Indigenous rights to land and sea.
Aside from these public opportunities, students at the Ocean Law Center of U.Va. will have lunch with Marawili to discuss the landmark sea rights claim in Arnhem Land. Students in U.Va.’s Studio Art Department will also have the opportunity to learn from him as a printmaker.
Djambawa Marawili will be travelling to Virginia with Kade McDonald, one of two art center managers at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, an Indigenous community-controlled art center in northeast Arnhem Land. On Friday, October 30 at 5:00 pm in Brooks Hall Commons, Kluge-Ruhe will screen two short films made by budding Indigenous filmmakers in Yirrkala under the auspices of the Mulka Project, which uses film to sustain and protect Yolngu cultural knowledge in northeast Arnhem Land under the leadership of community members. Kade and Djambawa will be present to discuss the context and importance of the films and answer questions.
The two main shorts will be Galka, a film about the Yolngu sorcerer spirit, and Homeland Hustle, a film about dancing and hip hop in remote Arnhem Land.
Djambawa Marawili AM is the fourth resident artist at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection under its prestigious grant from Australia Council for the Arts. The exhibition and residency has been presented in partnership with the following sponsors: Embassy of Australia, Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Maria T. Kluge, U.Va. McIntire Department of Art and U.Va. Oceans Law Center.
Six Indigenous Australian writers and two Indigenous American writers will read from and discuss their work in an event titled First People: Indigenous Writers from Australia and North America on Tuesday, September 8 at 6:00 pm at the Harrison Institute Auditorium.
Each writer will spend seven minutes reading from a work of their choice, and then Karenne Wood (Monacan) will lead a discussion about Indigenous identity and writing, followed by Q & A and a reception with refreshments.
The program will inspire writers at U.Va. and in the community by introducing them to emerging and established Indigenous authors, while also creating a visible platform for Indigenous voices to be shared and heard in our community, where these voices are often considered invisible and are sometimes intentionally silenced.
“As always, we are excited to provide the opportunity for public dialogue about the politics of Indigenous identities and how these inform the study of human culture. Usually visual art is the platform for this conversation at Kluge-Ruhe, but we are committed to supporting all kinds of Indigenous creativity, and are grateful for the chance to showcase the compelling and relevant works of these writers ,” said Education and Program Coordinator Lauren Maupin.
Indigenous Australian writers Bruce Pascoe, Jared Thomas, Dub Leffler, Jeanine Leane, Ellen Van Neervan, and Cathy Craigie are members of the First Nations Australian Writers Network, an organization that acts as an advocacy and resources service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and storytellers. Already in the United States for the 2015 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection invited them to Charlottesville to participate in the panel reading and discussion.
Kluge-Ruhe then reached out to the Mary and David Harrison Institute as a partnering host for this program, as well as Karenne Wood (Monacan) of the Virginia Indian Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Wood, being a published poet herself, agreed to participate and moderate the panel. Poet Deborah Miranda (Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen), who has won numerous writing awards and teaches at Washington and Lee, will also participate.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity to hear from Indigenous writers on both sides of the globe, to compare our historical and contemporary experiences, and to talk about how we use writing to challenge people’s perceptions,” said Karenne Wood.
Since the Indigenous writers from Australia will be in town for several days, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection is also arranging for these writers to visit poetry writing and fiction writing courses taught by U.Va. faculty in the Creative Writing Program of the English Department. One of the writers is a children’s book author and illustrator, and he will be offering a book illustration workshop in an elementary school classroom in the City of Charlottesville.
This program is sponsored by the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of U.Va., the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the First Nations Australian Writers Network, and the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture.
More information about each writer is below.
Karenne Wood is an enrolled member of the Monacan Indian Nation and serves on the Monacan Tribal Council. She is currently a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Virginia, working to reclaim indigenous languages and revitalize cultural practices. She recently edited The Virginia Indian Heritage Trail, published by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, led the “Beyond Jamestown” Teachers’ Institute, and curated the “Beyond Jamestown: Virginia Indians Past and Present” exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. She was previously the Repatriation Director for the Association on American Indian Affairs, coordinating the return of sacred objects to Native communities. She has also worked at the National Museum of the American Indian as a researcher, and she directed a tribal history project with the Monacan Nation for six years. Wood held a gubernatorial appointment as Chair of the Virginia Council on Indians for four years, and she has served on the National Congress of American Indians’ Repatriation Commission.
Bruce Pascoe is of Bunurong, Yuin, Tasmanian heritage. His books include Shark, Ruby-eyed Coucal, Ocean, Earth and Nightjar. His novel, Bloke, was published by Penguin in 2009. The children’s novel, The Chainsaw File, was published by Oxford University Press in 2011. Fog a Dox was published in 2012 by Magabala and won the Prime Minister’s Award for Young Adult Literature in 2013. Dark Emu was published by Magabala in 2014 and was shortlisted in the Western Australia and Queensland Literary Awards. In 2014 he attended the Australian New Zealand Literary Festival in London and in 2015 will visit festivals in Scotland, Mongolia and the USA.
Jared Thomas is a Nukunu man of the Southern Flinders Ranges and an author of young adult fiction. His debut novel Sweet Guy was short listed for three major Australian literature awards and his children’s novel Dallas Davis, the Scientist and the City Kids is published in the Oxford University Press Yarning Strong series. Calypso Summer won the 2013 State Library of Queensland black&write! Fellowship and was included in iTunes best books of April 2014. Leading Indigenous publisher Magabala Books will release Songs that Sound like Blood in 2015.
Dub Leffler is descended from the Bigambul people who survived the fourteen year Bigambul war of the 1840s in Australia. He is an accomplished author and illustrator with over eighteen feature titles to his name and has collaborated with such luminaries as Colin Thompson, Shaun Tan and Banksy. He is Australia’s premiere Indigenous illustrator of children’s literature. Dub’s book, Once There Was a Boy, which he both wrote and illustrated, was one of the biggest children’s books of 2011 in Australia.
Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri woman from southwest New South Wales with a Ph.D. in Literature and Aboriginal representation. She currently holds a post-doctoral fellowship at the Australian National University. In 2010, Jeanine’s first volume of poetry, Dark Secrets After Dreaming: AD 1887-1961 won the Scanlon Prize for Indigenous Poetry from the Australian Poets’ Union and her manuscript, Purple Threads won the David Unaipon Award at the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. Jeanine is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery grant (2011) for her project Reading the Nation: A critical study of Aboriginal/Settler representation in the contemporary Australian Literary Landscape and a Discovery Indigenous Award (2013) for her new project The David Unaipon Award: Shaping the literary and cultural history of Aboriginal writing in Australia.
Ellen Van Neervan is a Yugambeh woman from South-East Queensland, Australia. She is the author of the award-winning Heat and Light (UQP, 2014). Divided into three sections, it is inspired by the intersection of familial history, location and identity. Ellen has been awarded a Queensland Writers Fellowship to pursue her next project in 2015, a novel about Aboriginal relationships with mega fauna. She lives in Brisbane where she works as the senior editor of the black&write! project at the State Library of Queensland, which aims to support and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and editors.
Cathy Craigie is a Gamilaroi and Anaiwon woman from northern New South Wales. She has worked in Aboriginal Affairs for over thirty years. She was one of the original founders of Koori Radio/Gadigal Information Service and has worked in senior positions with the Australia Council and the New South Wales Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Cathy has held a variety of key positions in other Aboriginal arts, health and housing organizations at national and international levels. She is also an aspiring writer and has written several plays and stories. Cathy was Festival Curator, Guwanyi (to tell) the National Aboriginal Writers’ Festival held at the New South Wales Writers Centre.
Deborah Miranda is a Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen woman of California. She was born in Los Angeles to an Esselen/Chumash father and a mother of French ancestry. She grew up in Washington State, earning a BS in teaching moderate special-needs children from Wheelock College in 1983 and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Washington. Miranda is a poet and her collections of poetry include Indian Cartography: Poems (1999), winner of the Diane Decorah Memorial First Book Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas; and The Zen of La Llorona (2005), nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. Miranda also received the 2000 Writer of the Year Award for Poetry from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. Her mixed-genre collection Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir (2013) won a Gold Medal from the Independent Publisher’s Association and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan Award.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection has nominated a bark painting as one of Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts through a program sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM). This painting, titled Ngalkunburriyaymi and Ngalyod, was made circa 1926 by Namerredje Guymala in Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory.
In this painting, Guymala depicts the ancestral Rainbow Serpent, who takes three forms: Yingarna (the mother of all ancestral beings), Ngalyod (her son), and Ngalkunburriyaymi (Nglayod’s sister). Guymala portrays Ngalyod as a composite being with a crocodile head, a snake body, a fish tail, an emu breast plate, and kangaroo ears. Ngalyod protects sacred places by encircling and swallowing other beings. Guymala likewise represents Ngalyod surrounding Ngalkunburriyaymi, protecting her.
Wally Caruana, former curator at the National Gallery of Australia, described Guymala as “a superb draughtsman with a recognizably individual ‘hand.’” He is known for his use of the artistic style – kabimbebme or “color coming out.” The bold red, black, yellow, pink and white stripes emphasize kabimbebme making Ngalyod appear to slither out from the bark. By preserving this work, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection hopes to continue to raise awareness of the complexity and sophistication of Aboriginal art. Yet, until we can prevent color coming off, we cannot display Guymala’s mastery of color coming out.
Collections Manager Nicole Wade stated, “While this particular work is structurally stable, it has extensive areas of paint loss, and other areas of actively lifting, tenting, and flaking paint. Endangered areas can be consolidated and stabilized by a conservator, returning the work to an exhibitable condition.”
The Top 10 program, which runs from August 1 – 23, raises awareness about the conservation needs of museum collections throughout Virginia and Washington D.C. It also provides an opportunity for the public to participate by voting for a favorite artifact online at www.vatop10artifacts.org.
Although the Top 10 honorees do not receive a monetary reward, museums can use the designation to draw attention to their conservation needs. A bark painting from the Kluge-Ruhe Collection was named to the Top 10 in 2011, and became the focus of a fundraising campaign. Voters can make donations on the Top 10 site or on Kluge-Ruhe’s website to benefit conservation at the museum of their choice.
“We hope everyone in Charlottesville will support our nomination and vote for our bark painting,” says Kluge-Ruhe Director Margo Smith. Need quote here
Nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel of collections and conservation experts, and Top 10 honorees, as well as a “People’s Choice” honoree, will be announced September 15th. Public votes will be considered by the panel as they make their final selections.
“Each year that we do this program, I am amazed by the diversity and importance of the artifacts in the care of Virginia’s museums. Each year, we have success raising awareness for endangered artifacts, and collecting institutions benefit from the Top 10 by garnering support for their conservation efforts. I am confident that this year will be no different,” says Jennifer Thomas, VAM’s executive director.
Questions about Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifact program can be directed to Christina Newton at Virginia Association of Museums at (804)358-3173 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This summer, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection has commenced its first International Indigenous Arts Fellowship in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia (NGA). The NGA selected Kimberley Moulton, a past participant in their Indigenous Arts Leadership program, to undertake a six-week project at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection in Charlottesville. Moulton is a curator at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum (Museum Victoria).
The Fellowship is an opportunity for early to mid-career Indigenous arts professionals to gain international experience to boost their professional development, develop new skill sets, explore the diversity of careers available in the industry and build a wider network of colleagues. It is part of a broader Indigenous Arts Leadership program that assists Indigenous people who are working or want to work within the visual arts industry. This program is jointly funded by the National Gallery of Australia and Wesfarmers, one of Australia’s largest retail companies.
Kimberley Moulton is a Yorta-Yorta woman who has spent the past six years as the Curator and Project Officer of the Birrarung Gallery, the contemporary art space of the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. An emerging leader and mentor in the Australian visual arts, she was also chosen for the inaugural Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program in 2010, and in 2013 she was awarded a place at the British Council ACCELERATE program. Moulton is a board member for Banmirra Arts Inc and recently was a judge for the 2015 Western Australia Indigenous Art Awards. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Culture, Australian Indigenous Studies, and Journalism from Monash University in Melbourne, and is combining a post-graduate diploma in Indigenous Studies and a Masters of Arts Curatorship at the University of Melbourne.
For her six-week project, Moulton will be responsible for the curation, design and marketing of an exhibition of bark paintings by Djambawa Marawili, a celebrated Yolngu artist from Arnhem Land in Northern Australia. The exhibition will open on Thursday, August 20 at Night at the Museum and Moulton will discuss her curatorial practice in a Curator’s Talk on Wednesday, August 5 at 7:00 pm (registration required).
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection is pleased to announce that Director and Curator Margo Smith has been appointed an honorary Member of the Order of Australia.
The Order of Australia is a way the Australian government honors individuals who have contributed outstanding service to their field. Usually appointments are only conferred to Australian citizens, so the appointment of Dr. Smith as a member is both rare and highly esteemed.
Smith said, “This is a tremendous honor and, of course, reflects the efforts of many other people, foremost the Indigenous artists who have so generously shared their art and culture with us, the staff at Kluge-Ruhe and all of our colleagues internationally who have worked with us for many years.”
Dr. Margo Smith is a native of Staunton, Virginia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from William and Mary and a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy in anthropology from the University of Virginia. She conducted fieldwork in central Australia from 1991-3 and first became involved with the Kluge-Ruhe Collection in 1995, when it was the private collection of John W. Kluge. After helping to facilitate the gift of the collection to U.Va., Dr. Smith co-edited the museum’s catalogue, Art From the Land: Dialogues with the Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Australian Aboriginal Art with Dr. Howard Morphy, which was published by the University of Virginia in 1999, the year the museum opened to the public.
Since 2003 Smith has taught various undergraduate courses at U.Va. on Aboriginal art and culture in the Anthropology and Art History departments. She has curated more than 60 exhibitions at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, some of which have travelled in the USA and abroad. In 2006 she served as consulting curator on the exhibition Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She is serving on the curatorial team for an upcoming exhibition at the Musees de la Civilisation in Quebec City, Canada.
For the past sixteen years Smith has shepherded the Kluge-Ruhe Collection into its current thriving state. Going beyond the traditional role of a museum director or curator, she has advocated for Indigenous Australian people and has worked vigorously to promote Aboriginal art and culture in the United States.
The appointment of an Order of Australia medal begins with a nomination from a community member to the General Division of the Order. Once submitted, the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat at Government House in Canberra conducts further research on nominees, and are also reviewed by the Council for the Order of Australia, which makes recommendations directly to the Governor-General. Dr. Smith will receive a gold-plated silver medal of the Order for her appointment, which is hung from the royal blue ribbon of the Order.
Jody Kielbasa, Vice Provost for the Arts at U.Va., explains “I am thrilled to learn that Margo has been recognized and honored for her significant work in promoting the work of aboriginal artists and their culture here in the United States and for her leadership and vision as the Director of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection. The Kluge-Ruhe has thrived under her direction and we look forward to its future growth and expansion.”
This summer, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of U.Va. is exhibiting the artwork of Tony Albert, a Girramay artist from Townsville, Queensland, whose work engages with issues of race, police violence, discrimination and identity.
Brothers is a single installation containing twenty-six photographs of young Aboriginal men. Each man’s chest bears a red target, but Albert has also painted the photographs with designs and symbols he associates with strength and resistance. Moving Targets, a film depicting a dance commissioned by Albert from choreographer Stephen Page of Bangarra Dance Theatre, will be shown in the exhibition.
These works respond to incidents of police violence toward Aboriginal people. Specifically, Albert was inspired by events that took place in Sydney in 2012, where two teenage Aboriginal joyriders were shot and injured by police. Following this, a protest was held at Sydney’s Town Hall, and friends of the victims appeared with targets drawn on their chests.
For Albert, the target symbolizes the daily experience of being targeted because of race. It also refers to the blanket stereotypes applied to Aboriginal people as a result of government policies such as the Northern Territory Intervention. “We’re constantly wearing a target as people, but there’s also an optimistic twist about how, or why, or when we wear it or change it.” The target can also be seen as a symbol of empowerment and unity, as concentric circles are a prominent visual characteristic of Aboriginal artwork from the central desert of Australia.
Albert is clear, however, that his work is about more than the Aboriginal experience. He explains that “the ideas that I’m looking at stem from a human condition, rather than just being Aboriginal… [I’m] looking at it on a much broader social and political level, than just honing in within Australia or an Aboriginal context.” Brothers brings an international voice to the ongoing dialogue about race and discrimination surrounding recent events in the U.S. and Charlottesville. Kluge-Ruhe Director Margo Smith said, “Although this body of work was first shown in 2012, it is of particular relevance at this moment, with our nation and our local community struggling to comprehend the incidents of violence toward Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and Martese Johnson among many others.”
Curator Franklin Sirmans from Los Angeles County Museum of Art, wrote an essay for the Brothers exhibition catalogue, placing Tony’s work in conversation with a host of other internationally known contemporary artists.
Visitors will have the opportunity to reflect on the exhibition’s themes in an interactive space at the museum. Prompts like “Write or draw something you feel sorry about” will encourage participants to explore their personal experiences.
Albert’s work is held in numerous public and private collections internationally. In 2014 he won both the $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize and the prestigious $50,000 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Most recently, he unveiled a major commission in Sydney’s Hyde Park, a monument dedicated to Australia’s Indigenous military service men and women.
Brothers will be on view May 26 – August 9, 2015, and a reception on Friday, May 29 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm will celebrate the opening of Brothers and a new exhibition of works from the Kluge-Ruhe permanent collection. Tony Albert will visit Charlottesville July 8 – 11, and will participate in a youth art program, a panel discussion with other artists, and other public programs.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection wishes to thank Tony Albert, Liz Nowell, Sullivan + Strumpf, Carriageworks, Franklin Sirmans and Debra and Dennis Scholl for contributing to this exhibition. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
Images: Tony Albert, Brothers, 2013, courtesy of the artist.
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection announces a new program for high school students in summer 2015. ARTinstead is an eight-session workshop for high school students that will culminate in a public panel discussion on July 11.
ARTinstead is an opportunity for Charlottesville youth to explore their roles in the ongoing local, national, and international dialogues about race. In sessions facilitated by Lora Henderson (U.Va. Curry School of Education), students will explore their own racial and cultural identities and experiences, and consider how art can be used instead of violence to encourage change. Each week, an established artist whose work engages with these topics will discuss their art practice, teach fine art techniques, and consult with each student. Participating artists are Tony Albert (Girramay, Indigenous Australian), Gerald Cournoyer (Oglala Lakota, Native American), Frank Walker (African-American), and Madhavi Reddi (Indian-American).
ARTinstead is spearheaded by U.Va. student Holly Zajur (CLAS 2015). Zajur was granted The Minerva Award to research how cultural identity is conceptualized and expressed through art, and the capacity of art as a tool for social awareness and action. Zajur, a Global Development and Arts Administration major and an intern at Kluge-Ruhe, said, “I believe that art provides an outlet for social transformation worldwide and am very grateful to the Kluge-Ruhe for supporting this vision.”
ARTinstead dovetails with the Kluge-Ruhe Collection’s summer exhibition, Brothers, a selection of works by Tony Albert. Albert’s accomplishments include Australia’s most prestigious Indigenous art award, the Telstra Award, and his work is in major public and private collections internationally. Brothers explores the discrimination and targeting of Aboriginal people, issues relevant to minority groups worldwide.
ARTinstead will meet on Mondays and Fridays from 1 – 4 pm, June 15 – July 11. Students ages 14 – 18 interested in art and conversations about how race impacts their community are encouraged to apply. The deadline is May 11, 2015, and applications can be found here. Space is limited to 10 participants, so apply now!
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection is unveiling a large painted rock, seven feet high by five and a half feet wide, on March 30 at the Millmont Art Storage facility. The rock has been in storage since it was given to U.Va. by John Kluge in 1997. It will be examined by Kaitlin LaGrasta (Class of 2015), a U.Va. student who is researching depictions of the Rainbow Serpent in artworks in the Kluge-Ruhe Collection for her Distinguished Majors Program in Anthropology. LaGrasta was an intern at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection in 2014 through the Institute for Public History Summer Internship program and took a class on “Australian Aboriginal Art and Culture” taught by Margo Smith, Director of the Kluge-Ruhe Collection.
Examining the rock is major undertaking, involving a team of professional art handlers, a conservator and a photographer supervised by Kluge-Ruhe Collections Manager and Registrar Nicole Wade. “Providing access to this particular work is problematic in that it weighs approximately one ton and is painted on both sides with natural ochres,” said Wade. “We’re fortunate that Kaitlin’s needs dovetailed so well with our own, giving her an opportunity to further her scholarly research, and providing us an opportunity to photograph, rehouse, and assess the work’s overall condition.” LaGrasta received a grant from U.Va. College Council to cover some of the costs of accessing the rock. The Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts also contributed support to this project.
LaGrasta said, “I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to Australia, but the resources provided by the Kluge-Ruhe Collection have allowed me to undertake this project. As an undergraduate student, I’m excited to have the opportunity to participate in original, independent research that not only will prepare me for my professional future, but also will add to the scholarly work on Aboriginal art and support its global appreciation.”
Kluge acquired the painted rock from CAZ Gallery in Los Angeles, where artists Bobby Barrdjarai Nganjmirra (1915–1992) and Thompson Yulidjirri (1930-2009) painted it in 1988. Nganjmirra and Yulidjirri were members of the Kunwinjku language group from the community of Gunbalanya in Western Arnhem Land in northern Australia. The Kluge-Ruhe Collection has many works on bark from this region depicting Rainbow Serpents, ancestral beings associated with the creation of other ancestors and sacred sites. LaGrasta’s research will augment the museum’s understanding and documentation of differing representations of Rainbow Serpents in its collection.
The rock, which has never been publically exhibited, will remain crated until the Kluge-Ruhe Collection has space to accommodate it. “This object is absolutely unique to U.Va.,” says Smith. “The artists came from a long tradition of rock art seen in amazing sites like Injalak Hill near Gunbalanya, but there is no other comparable example in any museum collection in the world.”
On January 20th the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of U.Va. will open a new exhibition titled New Narratives: Papunya Tjupi Prints with Cicada Press. This selection of fourteen prints is the result of an eight year partnership between Papunya Tjupi, an art center in a remote desert community, and Cicada Press, a print workshop at the University of New South Wales Art & Design in Sydney.
Papunya is a community of particular importance in Australia, best known as the birthplace of the contemporary Western Desert art movement, which launched Aboriginal art into the international art world in the 1970s and 80s. For the first time, desert artists were able to preserve and share their culture in the portable and permanent art form of acrylic on canvas, drawing from the designs and iconography found in customary art forms like ground design, sand drawing, and body painting.
The artists featured in New Narratives are the descendants of the founders of this movement. The partnership between Papunya Tjupi and Cicada Press marks the addition of the new medium of printmaking into Papunya’s art history. Many of the prints are aquatints, an intaglio printmaking technique similar to an etching that allows for a tonal effect when the plate is being engraved.
The medium may have changed, but the reasons for making art have not. One of the artists, Tilau Nangala, paints “so the children can watch me paint and learn, so I can pass on my Dreaming and stories to my grandchildren.” Papunya Tjupi art center continues to be a conduit for the expertise and experience of internationally renowned senior artists to be passed onto the next generation, who make up the current group of over 100 artists, many of whom have never painted before.
A reception will be held on Friday, January 23, 2015 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm to celebrate the opening of New Narratives. In March, Michael Kempson, the master printer at Cicada Press, will visit Charlottesville and give a talk on Thursday, March 26 about the prints and his partnership with Papunya Tjupi. The exhibition will run through Sunday, May 17, 2015.
As the year draws to a close, we are reminded of so many wonderful programs and activities we have undertaken. Here’s a month-to-month recap of the highlights.
January: We began renovations on our new Study Center and Classroom, which opened in March.
February: Aboriginal composer and musician William Barton performed a concert of Didjeridu & Strings with Charlottesville High School Orchestra String Ensemble and played with U.Va.’s McIntire String Quartet at TEDxUVA.
March: Indigenous photographer and curator Nici Cumpston began her month-long Australia Council residency. See our short film about it here.
April: We launched Tots and Dots, our monthly early visual literacy programs for infants and toddlers, introducing young children and their caregivers to basic principles of art followed by a fun hands-on project.
May: Western Albemarle High School participated in Young Art Historians, a program teaching students to use a variety of research methods while investigating objects in the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. The results of YAH research are posted on our website and have been incorporated into exhibition text.
June: We brought Indigenous Australian photographer James Tylor to Charlottesville to attend LOOKbetween, a mentorship program for emerging and early career photographers from around the world.
July: Cameron McCarthy joined us for a celebration of NAIDOC Week with performances of didjeridu and dancing, and we conducted an Aboriginal Flag printmaking activity for all ages.
August: Lauren Maupin returned from six weeks in Australia studying the ways Australian museums educate the public about Indigenous art. Her trip took her to five states and territories and she visited Warlukurlangu Artists in Yuendumu and Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre in Yirrkala.
September: Ricardo Idagi taught students in Bill Bennett’s sculpture classes the techniques used in making dari headdresses. The students then used these techniques, which included weaving, cutting feathers and sewing, to create their own sculptural works.
October: Artist Brian Robinson visited Kluge-Ruhe and gave a talk on his print and sculptural projects. His work is part of the Saltwater Country exhibition, at the Embassy of Australia.
November: Enid Wurungmurra, Warren Gurruwiwi and Jennifer Deger attended the screening of Ringtone at the Virginia Film Festival as part of the Indigenous Film Series supported by U.Va. Arts Council. We also screened Drunktown’s Finest with Navajo filmmaker Sydney Freeland and What We Do in the Shadows, which won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.
December: We developed a program on seeing Aboriginal art mindfully and a collaborative painting project for the Darden School’s Executive Education Leadership Program.
We are especially grateful to our partners throughout the year who contributed to the success of these amazing programs and others too numerous to mention: African American Teaching Fellows, Australia Council for the Arts, Australian Government Department of Education, Charlottesville High School, City Clay, the Darden School of Business, the Embassy of Australia, the Fralin Museum of Art, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, Harvey Art Projects USA, the International Residence College, the Kluge-Ruhe Advisory Council, LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, McGuffey Art Center, the McIntire Department of Art, the McIntire Department of Music, the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, TEDx Charlottesville, TEDx U.Va., U.Va. Arts Council, Vivien Anderson Gallery, the Virginia Film Festival, and Western Albemarle High School.
Of course, none of this would be possible without your participation and support!
We’ll be closed from December 22 – January 5 taking a much needed break. All of us at Kluge-Ruhe wish you a joyful holiday season and look forward to a new year of art in 2015!
Margo, Nicole, Lauren and Megan
PS – Your tax-deductible gift will enable us to continue providing these wonderful programs in 2015. Please make your gift today here.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection is pleased to announce three films by Indigenous filmmakers in the 2014 Virginia Film Festival, supported by a grant from U.Va. Arts Council. This year the museum has partnered with the Festival to present an Australian Aboriginal documentary, a Navajo feature-length drama, and a vampire comedy from New Zealand. As part of its ongoing mission to provide opportunities for Indigenous artists to introduce their work to new audiences, Kluge-Ruhe is bringing the filmmakers and cast members from two films to participate in their screenings. Tickets are available at the Virginia Film Festival’s website using the links below.
Ringtone (2014) is a documentary film in which Australian Aboriginal families offer glimpses into their lives and relationships through their choice of cellular ringtones. From ancestral clan songs to 1980s hip hop artists and local gospel tunes, the ringtones of each individual situates them in a world of enduring connection and explores the intrusions and demands brought by mobile phones to a once remote community in northern Australia. The filmmakers Jennifer Deger, Warren Gurruwiwi and Enid Burungulmiwuy Wungungmurra of Miyarrka Media will be present for a post-screening discussion. Ringtone is also the centerpiece of the exhibition Gapuwiyak Calling, which is on view at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It will screen at U.Va. Newcomb Hall at 6:15 pm on Thursday, November 6.
Drunktown’s Finest (2014) is written and directed by Sydney Freeland. It is the result of her decision to take up the task of crafting an on-screen story that would accurately represent the variety of lifestyles present on the Navajo reservation she called home. This feature film follows three characters, an adopted Christian girl, a rebellious father-to-be, and a promiscuous transsexual in their efforts to reconcile and escape life on the reservation. Robert Redford acted as executive producer of Drunktown’s Finest, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Sydney Freeland will be present for a discussion after the screening, which will take place at Piedmont Virginia Community College at 9:00 pm on Friday, November 7.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014) follows the lives of Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav, three roommates who are just trying to get by and overcome life’s obstacles, although for them that includes being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood. The vampires’ struggles with sunlight catastrophes, “hitting the main artery,” and trying to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection, are almost as difficult as modern obstacles like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming roommate conflicts. Written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement (Fight of the Conchords), both of whom are Māori from New Zealand, the film has been called “an orgasm for the funny bone,” especially for mockumentary lovers. It will screen at U.Va. Newcomb Hall at 9:15 pm on Saturday, November 8.
Supported by U.Va. Arts Council and the Embassy of Australia.
On October 20 the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of U.Va. will offer an artist talk by Indigenous Australian artist Brian Robinson (Maluyligal, Wuthathi, Dayak). Robinson’s prints and sculptures combine his Torres Strait Islander heritage with a strong passion for experimentation, both in theoretical approach and medium. He observes that “mythical tales explaining the origins of landforms and all manner of natural phenomena are present throughout all cultures across the globe. Stories of heroic figures, magical powers, and great and ferocious beasts are told and retold time and time again, handed down through countless generations by word of mouth ‘til present day.” Robinson’s work has been collected widely by major institutions and private collectors in Australia and overseas.
Currently his work is included in a group exhibition titled Saltwater Country, which presents new work by sixteen contemporary artists from the state of Queensland. While the term ‘country’ has come to be understood as a word that describes Indigenous Australian connections to land, this exhibition investigates the equally strong cultural connectedness to the sea and the water’s edge. It also captures the distinctive cultural and creative experience of Queensland artists as they reclaim histories, explore their pasts and establish new ways of caring for country and community using art. As part of an international tour, Saltwater Country will run from October 15 – December 17 at the Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C.
Virginia Rigney, curator of Saltwater Country, will make a brief presentation about the exhibition. Two Torres Strait Islander artists whose work is featured in the exhibition, Jimmy Thaiday and Nino Sabatino, will also be present for questions and comments.
Brian Robinson’s artist talk will begin at 7:00 pm on Monday, October 20th at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection and will be followed by a reception. Reservations are required; please RSVP to 434-244-0234 or email@example.com.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection of U.Va. will host artist Ricardo Idagi, a multimedia sculptor and musician from Melbourne, September 15 – October 4, 2014. His residency and exhibition, sponsored by Australia Council for the Arts, will provide a number of opportunities to meet the artist and learn about his culture and artwork.
Ricardo Idagi is a Meriam man who grew up on Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait, north of mainland Australia. He was encouraged to produce art by two uncles, one of which was Eddie Koiki Mabo, who is famous internationally for winning native title rights to Mer Island in 1993. Idadi took a commercial art course at Cairns Technical and Further Educational Institute and settled in Melbourne in 1997. He initially gained recognition at the exhibition Ilan Pasin (This is our way): Torres Strait Art in 1998 and held his first solo exhibition in 2002. He has been included a number of major exhibitions over the last five years, and has won two prestigious Australian art awards: the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award (2009) and the New Media category of the 28th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (2011). His work is held in the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, among others.
The exhibition of Idagi’s artwork at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, titled Gurari – Saltwater Drinker, brings together works from the last five years that serve as a visual memoir of Mer (Murray Island), Idagi’s home in the Torres Strait. The sculptures are made of a wide variety of materials, from raffia and feathers to beer cans and wrought iron. The works comment on political and social issues facing Torres Strait Islanders today, such as multigenerational alcoholism and the impact of the Anglican mission on the Island. The exhibition also honors the rich cultural heritage of Meriam people and Idagi’s own personal resilience.
Ricardo Idagi’s residency provides the rare opportunity for the community to learn from a leading Indigenous Australian sculptor. He will be present to meet visitors at the final Night at the Museum event of the summer on September 18, when the Kluge-Ruhe Collection throws open its doors to its expansive lawn for local beer, food trucks and live music. Visitors can engage with Idagi’s work in depth at a Gallery Talk on Saturday, September 20th at 10:30 am or at his Artist Talk on Tuesday, September 23 at 7:00 pm.
Idagi will also work with U.Va. students in a number of courses, and is the third resident artist at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection under its prestigious grant from Australia Council for the Arts. The exhibition and residency have been presented in partnership with Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne and the McIntire Department of Art at U.Va.
A full schedule of Idagi’s exhibition and residency is listed below. All events are held at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection.
Opening Reception of Gurari – Saltwater Drinker
4 September, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Join the Kluge-Ruhe Collection in celebrating the opening of its newest exhibition, Gurari – Saltwater Drinker, a group of mixed media sculptures by Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi. Refreshments will be served, and this event is free and open to the public.
Night at the Museum with Ricardo Idagi
18 September, 5:00 – 9:00 pm
Join us for Night at the Museum, your opportunity to explore our exhibitions after hours and enjoy the best food and music in Charlottesville! With food trucks, beer from Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, and music from local band, Red and the Romantics, this event is not to be missed. For the final Night at the Museum of the summer, a new exhibition Gurari – Saltwater Drinker by Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi will be on view, and the artist will be present for the festivities. This event is $5 for nonmembers and free for museum members.
Gallery Talk with Ricardo Idagi
20 September, 10:30 am
Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi (Meriam) will give a tour of Gurari – Saltwater Drinker, the exhibition of his work on view at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. This event is free and open to the public.
Artist Talk with Reception to Follow
23 September, 7:00 pm
Please RSVP by calling 434.244.0234 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi (Meriam) will present his work and discuss his art practice as a sculptor and a musician. A small reception with refreshments will follow. This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Please RSVP by calling (434) 244-0234 or emailing email@example.com.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection has released a film about artist Nici Cumpston (Barkindji), who undertook a residency sponsored by Australia Council in March-April, 2014. Coloring the Landscape shows Nici hand coloring works on paper and talking about her body of work having-been-there in the Kluge-Ruhe gallery. The 8-minute film also depicts Cumpston leading a hand coloring workshop for students at the University of Virginia.
Coloring the Landscape was made by Chris Farina of Rosalia Films, who also made Stars over the Sea, about David Bosun’s residency, and the award-winning documentary, World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements.
Last week, Cumpston won the Telstra Work on Paper Award at the 31st National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in Darwin, Northern Territory. She has been named a finalist for the prestigious Bowness Photography Prize sponsored by Monash Gallery of Art.
Cumpston is associate curator of Australian art at the Art Gallery of South Australia and the inaugural artistic director of Tarnanthi, an Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander visual arts festival that will be held in Adelaide in October 2015.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection has nominated a Tiwi bark basket as one of Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts through a program sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM). This eucalyptus bark basket, called a tunga, was made circa 1926 by a Tiwi artist on Bathurst Island in Australia’s Northern Territory. Tiwi people use tungas to collect food and water, and as ceremonial objects.
The Top 10 program, which runs from Aug 4 – 23, raises awareness about the conservation needs of museum collections throughout Virginia and Washington D.C. It also provides an opportunity for the public to participate by voting for a favorite artifact online.
“This tunga is extremely rare,” says Collections Manager Nicole Wade. “We have not found a comparable object of this age in any other museum collection in the United States. Unfortunately, the condition is such that we can’t exhibit it without conservation treatment.”
Although the Top 10 honorees do not receive a monetary reward, museums can use the designation to draw attention to their conservation needs. A bark painting from the Kluge-Ruhe Collection was named to the Top 10 in 2011 and became the focus of a fundraising campaign. Voters can make donations on the Top 10 site to benefit conservation at the museum of their choice.
“We hope everyone in Charlottesville will support our nomination and vote for our tunga,” says Kluge-Ruhe Director Margo Smith. “We’ve also notified Tiwi people at the art centers that loaned work for our current exhibition, We Are Tiwi, and are counting on their votes too.”
Nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel of collections and conservation experts, and Top 10 honorees, as well as a “People’s Choice” honoree, will be announced September 9th. Public votes will be considered by the panel as they make their final selections.
“This is the fourth year of our program, and we are so proud of the results that we are already seeing,” says Jennifer Thomas, executive director of VAM. “Each year we have more public involvement in our online voting, more objects being nominated, and more past honorees being conserved and saved.”
Hello from Australia!
I’ve now travelled around this beautiful continent for four weeks, by plane, train and automobile, as well as boat and gondola! The Australian Government funded this six week excursion so that I could experience this land and its people first-hand and use what I learn to educate museum visitors about Indigenous Australian art and culture. I’ve driven over 1600 miles and have met over 70 individuals, from senior curators at museums like the National Gallery of Australia to Indigenous artists at remote art centers like Warlukurlangu Artists. I can’t begin to explain how this trip has changed me personally and professionally, but two notions have continued to surface throughout my time here. First, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection has a wide and prominent reputation here and the people for whom we advocate are proud of our existence and appreciative of the work we do. The second is that Indigenous Australian art is a bit like the Grand Canyon: it has been formed over thousands of years and yet is contemporary and dynamic, there is no end to its irresistible visual impact or the intensity of its importance, and those who have experienced it feel that everyone should explore it at some point in their lives.
Yesterday I arrived at an art center called Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Center, from which many of the bark paintings in the Kluge-Ruhe Collection originate. I will be learning about Yolngu culture and discovering how the art center functions. I am so grateful to my colleagues at Kluge-Ruhe and the wider art community for supporting me in this endeavor, and I look forward to bringing back many ideas and memories when I return.
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection will observe NAIDOC Week July 6-13. NAIDOC Week is an annual celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection will fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags throughout the week. On Friday, July 11 there will be a drop-in family art activity from 10:30 am to noon. Participants will learn about the printmaking process and the significance of the Aboriginal flag while creating their own woodblock print to take home. Aboriginal musician Cameron McCarthy will demonstrate the didjeridu and other musical instruments beginning at 1 pm.
On Saturday, July 12, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection will host a flag-raising ceremony at 10 am followed by a free, guided tour of the exhibitions Art and Country and We Are Tiwi. Cameron will provide a program of didjeridu and Aboriginal instruments at 11:30 am. All NAIDOC Week programs are free and open to the public.
Cameron McCarthy is a descendant of the Kuku-Yalanji people on his mother’s side and the Mbabarum, Mamu and Yidinji people on his father’s side. He is an accomplished musician and dancer, having performed with the Naroo (Ngaru) Dancers in Sydney, the Naringeri Narunga Dreaming Dance Group at Ayers Rock Resort in Northern Territory and the Tjapukai Dancers at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park in Cairns, North Queensland. Cameron relocated to New York in 2001 where he has been performing as a freelance artist and has established himself as a didjeridu player, dancer, public speaker and artist. He is a Cultural Affairs Officer for the Australian Consulate General in New York.
For more information please contact the Kluge-Ruhe Collection at 434 244-0234.
In June the Kluge-Ruhe Collection of the University of Virginia will host artist James Tylor, an Australian photographer specializing in 19th century photographic techniques. His visit will provide several opportunities to meet the artist and hear about his culture and art practice.
Of Aboriginal, European and Maori descent, Tylor uses daguerreotype and wet plate photographic processes to explore complex issues of identity and cultural representation. His investigations of Australia’s colonial past and his own heritage have prompted Tylor to fabricate objects and settings that become the subjects of his photographs.
Tylor says, “I try to highlight the less talked about parts of Australia’s history in my photography, such as the conflict between early European settlers and the Aboriginal Australians, as well as the impact that colonization has had on Australia and its first people.”
Sponsored by the Kluge-Ruhe Collection and the Embassy of Australia, Tylor will participate in LOOKbetween, an immersive mentorship program for emerging and early career photographers from around the world. An anchor event of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, LOOKbetween provides a forum for in-depth exploration of photographic practice through presentations, discussions, collaborative projects, and collegial critique. During his stay, Tylor will give two talks about his art practice, one on June 12th at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection and one co-sponsored by the Camera Heritage Museum at the Staunton Public Library on June 17th.
On Tuesday May 6, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection is participating in Charlottesville’s first day of giving!
Give 4 Good challenges you to give where you live. The Charlottesville Area Community Foundation has organized a 24-hour online giving day when more than $32,000 in matching gifts and cash prizes will amplify charitable contributions to local non-profits. To learn more, visit the Give4Good FAQs.
We invite you to support the Kluge-Ruhe Collection on May 6th by making a tax-deductible donation between 12:01 am and 11:59 pm EST.
Use this link to donate. Your donation of $25 or more will help us win matching gifts.
Want to know what your money will be used for? Your donations go to supporting our vibrant artist residency program! Click here to view a film that documents the benefits of our artist residencies for our community and U.Va. students, featuring Torres Strait Islander artist David Bosun.
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of U.Va. will host Nici Cumpston (b. 1963), a Barkindji photographer, painter and curator from Adelaide, Australia. Her residency, sponsored by Australia Council for the Arts, will provide a variety of enriching, interdisciplinary opportunities to meet the artist and learn about her art and curatorial practice.
Nici Cumpston’s artworks are primarily landscapes, in which she photographs spiritually and culturally significant places with a medium format film camera, prints them in black and white on canvas, and hand-colors them with acrylic, watercolor, and pencil. Her first job as a photographer was for the South Australian Police Department, where she processed and printed crime scene, accident investigation, and forensic autopsy film. Cumpston continues to use photography as “evidence” in her personal art practice, as the works in her exhibition having-been-there provide proof of Aboriginal occupation of land prior to European settlement.
Museum Director Margo Smith said, “We welcome Nici’s residency and her insights both as a practicing artist and a curator of major exhibitions of Indigenous Australian art.” As the Associate Curator of Australian Paintings, Sculpture and Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide, Cumpston has organized many significant exhibitions including Heartland and Desert Country, which has toured Australia since 2010. She holds a BA in Visual Arts from the University of South Australia, and her artwork is held in esteemed private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery, and the Parliament House Collection. Most recently she was awarded the 2013 Premier’s NAIDOC Award, and in 2012 her work was featured in the major exhibition unDisclosed: 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial.
Public opportunities to engage with Nici Cumpston begin at a reception to celebrate the her exhibition and residency on Friday, March 21st from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Visitors can engage more in depth with the artist and her photographs the following morning, Saturday, March 22, during a guided tour of her works at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection at 10:30 am.
Nici Cumpston will provide two public lectures at U.Va. On March 25 she will share how fine art photography can raise awareness of environmental degradation at the weekly Environmental Sciences Undergraduate Seminar Series in Clark Hall. She will speak more broadly about the breadth of her art and curatorial practices over the last fifteen years on April 8 at Campbell Hall, room 153. Cumpston will also lead a Flash Seminar at U.Va. about crime scene photography, which will include a look at the artworks of Weegee (1899 – 1968), and Andrew Savulich (b. 1949) in the Fralin Museum of Art’s collection on March 26.
Part of the residency also includes some time for Cumpston to explore the area in and around Charlottesville as the groundwork for a new body of photographs, as well as time to conduct some research on works in Kluge-Ruhe’s permanent collection.
Cumpston is the second resident artist at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection under its prestigious grant from Australia Council for the Arts, which awarded residencies to six Indigenous Australian artists. Her visit is presented in partnership with the Embassy of Australia and U.Va. McIntire Department of Art.
The schedule of the residency is below:
Public Reception with Resident Artist Nici Cumpston
Friday, March 21, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, Kluge-Ruhe Collection
Join the Kluge-Ruhe Collection and Aboriginal artist Nici Cumpston to celebrate the launch of her artist residency. Refreshments will be served, and this event is free and open to the public.
Gallery Walk and Talk with Resident Artist Nici Cumpston
Saturday, March 22, 10:30 am, Kluge-Ruhe Collection
Australian Aboriginal artist Nici Cumpston will provide a guided tour of having-been-there, an exhibition of her hand-colored landscape photographs. This event is free and open to the public, and no reservations are required.
Confronting Issues of Sustainability through Photography
Tuesday, March 25, 4:00 pm, Clark Hall 108
Nici Cumpston, an Australian Aboriginal artist from Adelaide, photographs landscapes that document the natural beauty and the destruction of the Murray-Darling Basin river system, as well as its importance to the Indigenous people of Australia. At the Undergraduate Seminar series, she will present her photographs and discuss how fine art has the power to engage with the sciences and raise awareness about environmental issues.
Crime Scene Photography Flash Seminar
Wednesday, March 26, 3:30 pm, Fralin Museum of Art Print Study Gallery
Can crime scene photography act as fine art photography, and vice versa? Australian Aboriginal photographer Nici Cumpston, who has a background in crime scene, accident investigation, and forensic autopsy photography, will lead a discussion about the documentary power of the camera using the works of Weegee and Andrew Savulich in the Fralin Museum of Art’s permanent collection.
Hand-coloring Photographs: A Workshop with Resident Artist Nici Cumpston
Saturday, April 5, 10 am – 3 pm
reserve a space by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Nici Cumpston is an acclaimed Australian Aboriginal artist and curator, whose artwork primarily involves photographing landscapes, printing them in black and white, and hand-coloring them with acrylic, watercolor and pencil. Join Cumpston for a demonstration of her hand-coloring techniques and a chance to experiment with the medium under her guidance in this five hour workshop. Registration is required, space is limited to 8 U.Va. students, and lunch will be provided. Participants from any department are encouraged to sign up, but please be prepared to bring four to six prints of your own photographs.
Artist Talk by Resident Artist Nici Cumpston
Tuesday, April 8, 5:30 pm, Campbell Hall 158
Australian Aboriginal artist and curator Nici Cumpston will present the breadth of her artwork over the last fifteen years, and will discuss her practice as an artist and a curator of Indigenous art at the Art Gallery of South Australia. This event is free and open to the public, and free parking is available in the Culbreth Garage.
My Land Watercolor Workshop (for grades 2 – 12)
Saturday, April 12, 1 pm and 2:30 pm, Kluge-Ruhe Collection. Registration deadline: April 7.
Join educators from the Kluge-Ruhe Collection in a free hand-coloring workshop inspired by the techniques of Nici Cumpston. Participants will engage in a brief tour and discussion of the artist’s work before using watercolors to bring color back into their own landscape photographs. To register, send a photograph of a landscape that is meaningful to you to email@example.com with your name, grade, and school by April 7.
1:00-2:00 pm: 2nd – 5th graders
2:30-4:00 pm: 6th – 12th graders
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection will bring internationally acclaimed composer and musician William Barton to Charlottesville for several special performances including a concert with Charlottesville High School students.
William Barton is Aboriginal man from Mount Isa in northwestern Queensland, Australia. For over twenty years he has practiced as a performer of the extended technique of the didjeridu. Barton has toured internationally since age fifteen as a soloist and in collaboration with traditional dance groups, fusion rock and jazz bands, orchestras, string quartets and mixed ensembles. He plays electric or acoustic guitar simultaneously with the didjeridu in a style he calls “didge-fusion.” Highlights of Barton’s career include performing at Carnegie Hall with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, presenting a private concert to Queen Sofia of Spain, and composing and performing a world premiere of new work with the Berlin Philharmonic at the Sydney Opera House. Most recently, his album Kalkadungu was named best classical album by ARIA in 2012.
The didjeridu is a wind instrument originated by Australian Aboriginal people, and was traditionally played in tandem with ceremonial dancing and singing. While the instrument is played widely for recreational purposes today, Barton aspires “to create a journey for people through music, to present a diversity in musical styles with the didjeridu, and to engage with audiences about the uniqueness of Australia.” He adds, “It has been a specific passion of mine to work closely with classical music and composers to develop and sustain music for the didjeridu in this environment.”
On February 19th, William Barton will perform with the Charlottesville High School Orchestra String Ensemble, led by Laura Mulligan Thomas, at U.Va.’s Culbreth Theatre at 7 pm. CHSO String Ensemble has garnered a national reputation for excellence, consistently winning top prizes at music festivals all over the country. Tickets are $10 regular admission, $5 for museum members, and free for all students. They can be purchased at the U.Va. Arts Box Office website, by calling (434) 924-3376, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
On February 22nd, Barton will perform with a group of University of Virginia students comprising the U.Va. McIntire String Quartet as part of TEDxUVA.
On February 21 the Kluge-Ruhe Collection will host a benefit dinner celebrating Australia’s rich cultural diversity and the unique role we fulfill in sharing it with an American audience. Our Aussie Bush Banquet features Australian fare prepared by the C & O Restaurant and a stirring program of film, bush poetry, and a performance by William Barton. We hope you will become more involved with the Kluge-Ruhe Collection by joining us at this event!
The Aussie Bush Banquet will take place at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and begins at 6:00 pm. The program includes the premiere of Stars Over The Sea, a documentary film on Torres Strait Islander artist David Bosun, an Australian bush poetry reading by Ian Henry, and a performance by internationally acclaimed didjeridu master William Barton and the U.Va. McIntire String Quartet.
The menu catered by C & O is as follows:
Crispy coconut prawns with curry aioli
Wagyu beef carpaccio crostini with feta and dill
Warm potato soufflés with bacon and parmesan
Roasted beets and feta cheese salad with mint, organic lettuces and orange vinaigrette
Barbecued Barramundi with lime-avocado salad and tamarind-ginger salsa
Braised Australian lamb shoulder with potato pastry and minted salsa verde
Grilled vegetable wellington with local tofu, chevre and bell pepper coulis
Lamingtons with warm vanilla sauce
Tickets come at a variety of price levels and can be purchased here.
We are grateful to the following sponsors for their support: Maria T. Kluge, Office of the Provost and the Vice Provost for the Arts, C & O Restaurant, and T & N Printing.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection will exhibit the work of photographer Nici Cumpston from Jan. 17 through May 18.
Cumpston is descended from the Barkindji people of New South Wales in Australia and also recognizes her Afghan, English and Irish ancestors. She is the curator of Australian Paintings, Sculpture and Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia.
The exhibition, having-been-there, is a series of images she created to document the evidence of Aboriginal occupation in Australia before European settlement. Tree engravings, ring trees and remnants of stone tools abound in Barkindji country in New South Wales, subtle signifiers of the spiritual ancestors who once lived in and created the landscape, 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 over time as a result of pollution, salination and re-routing.
Cumpston’s artistic process combines the hand-drawn and the photographic.
“Using medium format film cameras enables me to slow my pace,” she said. After printing the images in black and white on canvas, she colors them by hand with acrylic, watercolor or pencil, which gives her “time to reflect on the cultural stories shared with me by our senior cultural custodian and law man,” she said.
The opening reception for having-been-there will be held Jan. 24, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Cumpston’s residency at U.Va., sponsored by Australia Council for the Arts, will take place in March and April.
November 28 – 29: closed
All other days open with normal hours
December 23-26: closed
Friday, December 27: open 10 am – 4 pm, free guided tour at 10:30 am
Saturday, December 28: open 10 am – 4 pm, free guided tour at 10:30 am
Sunday, December 29: open 1 pm – 5 pm
December 30- January 1: closed
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection is celebrating National Native American Heritage Month this year with its creation of an Indigenous Film Program, as part of the Virginia Film Festival, and an associated Flash Seminar.
The Indigenous Film Program consists of two Indigenous films: the Australian Aboriginal film Satellite Boy (2012) and a Canadian Inuit film titled Uvanga. With support from U.Va. Arts Council, the Arctic Culture Forum, and the Embassy of Australia, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection has been successful in bringing the writer and director of Satellite Boy, Catriona McKenzie, and an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, Stephen Loring, for discussions after the respective films. Click here to buy tickets, and here to learn more about each film and see screening times and locations.
Catriona McKenzie will also lead a Flash Seminar at U.Va., which will examine the recent trend of making films on smartphones. It will take place at OpenGrounds, at 6:45 pm on Wednesday, November 6. Pizza will be provided.
31 October 2013
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH, 2013
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
From Alaskan mountain peaks to the Argentinian pampas to the rocky shores of Newfoundland, Native Americans were the first to carve out cities, domesticate crops, and establish great civilizations. When the Framers gathered to write the United States Constitution, they drew inspiration from the Iroquois Confederacy, and in the centuries since, American Indians and Alaska Natives from hundreds of tribes have shaped our national life. During Native American Heritage Month, we honor their vibrant cultures and strengthen the government-to-government relationship between the United States and each tribal nation.
As we observe this month, we must not ignore the painful history Native Americans have endured — a history of violence, marginalization, broken promises, and upended justice. There was a time when native languages and religions were banned as part of a forced assimilation policy that attacked the political, social, and cultural identities of Native Americans in the United States. Through generations of struggle, American Indians and Alaska Natives held fast to their traditions, and eventually the United States Government repudiated its destructive policies and began to turn the page on a troubled past.
My Administration remains committed to self-determination, the right of tribal governments to build and strengthen their own communities. Each year I host the White House Tribal Nations Conference, and our work together has translated into action. We have resolved longstanding legal disputes, prioritized placing land into trust on behalf of tribes, stepped up support for Tribal Colleges and Universities, made tribal health care more accessible, and streamlined leasing regulations to put more power in tribal hands. Earlier this year, an amendment to the Stafford Act gave tribes the option to directly request Federal emergency assistance when natural disasters strike their homelands. In March, I signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which recognizes tribal courts’ power to convict and sentence certain perpetrators of domestic violence, regardless of whether they are Indian or non-Indian. And this June, I moved to strengthen our nation-to-nation relationships by establishing the White House Tribal Council on Native American Affairs. The Council is responsible for promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient Native American communities.
As we observe Native American Heritage Month, we must build on this work. Let us shape a future worthy of a bright new generation, and together, let us ensure this country’s promise is fully realized for every Native American.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2013 as National Native American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 29, 2013, as Native American Heritage Day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection has partnered with the U.Va. School of Architecture and the Virginia Film Festival to offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity for middle school students to use Pixar-style animation software. The final product will be a short animated film of an Aboriginal Dreaming story, which will be used as an educational resource by the affiliated Aboriginal community in Australia. The full-day workshop, titled Dreaming in Animation, is one of many programs offered at the Virginia Film Festival’s Family Day on Saturday, November 9th.
Each middle school participant will be mentored by a U.Va. student and taught the basics of Autodesk Maya, a comprehensive 3D software program. Then, each of the fifteen pairs will create movements for one animal in the Dreaming story, which will later be stitched together to create the final animation short.
The program is spearheaded by Lauren Maupin, Education and Program Coordinator at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, and Earl Mark, Associate Professor in the U.Va. School of Architecture. Mark, who has extensive experience working in computer animation, teaches three U.Va. classes where digital moviemaking and animation is the primary focus.
Jane Freeman, Outreach Coordinator for the Virginia Film Festival, explains that the “workshop promises to be an outstanding experience for young filmmakers. Not only will participants work with U.Va. experts, but each will have a mentor to guide him or her through the animation process. The combination of the student support along with the unique equipment incorporated in the workshop makes for a very special program!”
The “Dreaming” is a term used to describe the belief systems of Australian Aboriginal cultures, which explains the spiritual origins and existence of the land and its people. The story that will be animated in the program is about Jiddelek, a frog who drinks all the water in Australia. Animals including a wombat, a kangaroo, an emu, and other birds and lizards, become thirsty and devise a plan to make Jiddelek give the water back. Each animal dances before the frog, and finally the humorous antics of a wriggling eel cause Jiddelek to laugh, emptying the water back into the rivers, creeks, lakes and waterholes.
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection has collaborated with the Aboriginal group that owns the story of Jiddelek, the Gunai/Kurnai people of East Gippsland. Community organizer Doris Paton will provide the narration for the story, and the final product will be used as a tool to preserve and educate young generations of Gunai/Kurnai people about their traditional stories and heritage.
“It has been exciting to see how, with the superb dedication of Earl Mark, the program has grown to include such a variety of partners and beneficiaries. Both the workshop and the final product will provide an unparalleled opportunity for all involved,” said Lauren Maupin of Kluge-Ruhe.
Four U.Va. students (Tina Cheng, Caitlin Gallagher, Marina Michael, and Monica Mohapatra) and two alumni (Roderick Cruz and Carter Tata) are dedicating numerous hours to building the characters and the environment for the animation in preparation for the program. Fifteen U.Va. students from varying disciplines have volunteered to be mentors on the day of the program.
Professor Mark believes that “tapping into the high creativity of middle-school age participants combined with the imagination and intelligence of University students has a wonderful potential to build visual interpretations of the Dreaming Story.”
Middle school students who want to participate in this free program are encouraged to apply as soon as possible by pre-registering on the Virginia Film Festival’s Family Day website and completing the program application. The program will take place at Campbell Hall on Saturday, November 9th from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm, with lunch included.
This workshop is part of the Kluge-Ruhe Collection’s Indigenous Film Program at the VFF, which was supported by a grant from U.Va. Arts Council.
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of U.Va. is pioneering the inclusion of Indigenous films in the 2013 Virginia Film Festival. Co-sponsored by U.Va. Arts Council and the Arctic Culture Forum, the Indigenous Film Program includes two feature length dramas, an Australian Aboriginal film called Satellite Boy and a Canadian Inuit film titled Uvanga . Tickets are available here.
Satellite Boy (2012) traces the story of a ten-year old boy named Pete, who takes off to the city to save the abandoned outdoor cinema he lives in with his grandfather in the desert. It will be screened on Friday, November 8 at 4:45 pm at Regal Cinemas 4 on the Downtown Mall. Writer and Director Catriona McKenzie, an Indigenous Australian, will be present for the screening and the discussion that will follow the film. McKenzie spent eight years directing documentaries for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and has won honors at a number of festivals. Starring David Gulpilil and Cameron Wallaby, Satellite Boy was an official selection for the Toronto Film Festival and was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Uvanga (2013) explores the expedition of Anna and her son, Tomas, to the small community of Igloolik in the Canadian Arctic to learn about Tomas’ paternal heritage. Tomas’ Inuk father died years ago, and the joy of the homecoming is mixed with memories of a painful chapter in the town’s shared history, creating resentment and tension. Uvanga recently won ‘Best Feature’ at the Yellow Knife International Film Festival. It will screen on Thursday, November 7 at 5:30 pm at Regal Cinemas 1 on the Downtown Mall. A Q&A will follow with Dr. Stephen Loring from the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center. Dr. Loring has over thirty years of involvement with Inuit communities and is an amateur filmmaker.
On Family Day, Saturday, November 9, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection has partnered with the U.Va. School of Architecture to offer Dreaming in Animation, a program for middle-school students to try their hand using Pixar-level animation software to bring an Australian Aboriginal Dreaming story to life. The workshop will run from 9:00 – 3:30 pm in Campbell Hall. Interested participants can find the application form on the Family Day website or by emailing email@example.com.
Written by Ashley Patterson
University of Virginia students are only one month into the semester, yet art professor Bill Bennett’s “Introduction to Sculpture” class already has something to show for its work.
The students collaborated with Torres Strait Islander artist David Bosun, the artist-in-residence at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, to hand-carve a traditional ceremonial Torres Straight totem pole. Standing more than 8 feet tall and carved from a 250-year old pecan tree, the pole features faces, animals and even the students’ initials embedded into the designs.
On Tuesday, Kluge-Ruhe celebrated Bosun and U.Va. sculpture students for their collaborative work. The museum invited the University and Charlottesville community to join Bosun for a discussion on his art, culture and inspiration, culminating in the celebratory unveiling of the totem pole.
Bosun came to the University for a four-week stay as an artist-in-residence, thanks to a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. He is the first of six Indigenous Australian artists who will take part in a U.Va. residency over the next three years.
Bosun arrived in Charlottesville ready to teach, learn and create, said Margo Smith, director and curator of Kluge-Ruhe.
After finding him hammering away at the sculpture for hours on one of his first days in the studio, Smith told him, “David, you don’t have to finish that today,” but Bosun just looked up and smiled.
Bosun has been “enthusiastic and excited, ready to hit the ground running and take advantage of every opportunity,” Smith said.
Among those opportunities was the chance to work with students. Bennett’s classes met weekly with Bosun, where they learned the skills and techniques as well as the patience it takes to hand-carve a totem pole. With countless hours spent carefully pounding their mallets into the wood, the result was true artwork.
The pole was carved from a 250-year old pecan tree that recently fell at the University. Bosun celebrated the life of the tree on such historical land, saying, “We are making history with history.”
The experience of working with Bosun resonated with the students who came into the class unfamiliar with many of the techniques taught by the artist. Third-year student Sandy Williams expected individual work and the slow learning process that typically accompanies introductory courses, and was surprised to be able to participate in the creation of this piece so early in the semester.
Bosun “instilled confidence that we couldn’t mess up,” Williams said. “He was a good mentor with art-making in general.”
Bosun’s work is heavily influenced by his spiritual beliefs. Traditional totem poles play a significant part in ceremonial ancestry traditions in the Torres Straight Islands. Bosun introduced to Bennett’s students the role of the totem pole and his inspirations, which include ancestry, environment, animals and spirits. He said the passion stirred within him while creating a piece is actually the passion of his ancestors, who are using his art as a medium to speak.
Bosun said he incorporated his ancestral beliefs in creating the totem pole with Bennett’s students.
“It’s a different idea,” Williams said. “It takes opened-mindedness.”
Graduate student Lindsay Hinz had a more difficult time connecting with Bosun’s spiritual inspiration, yet she said the experience taught her “there is something in everyone’s life they can connect to, even if it isn’t ancestry.”
The collaboration not only resonated with the students but also had an impact on Bosun as well. “I had a very good experience with all the students,” he said. “It was my first time teaching and my first time teaching wood-carving. The passion they showed was a good experience for me, because I’ve never had it with my own people since I have never taught before.”
The totem pole will join Bosun’s Ngau Gidthal (My Stories) exhibition at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection in mid-October. The exhibition will be on display through Dec. 29.
In September the Kluge-Ruhe Collection of U.Va. will host artist David Bosun, a printmaker and woodcarver from Moa Island in the Torres Strait. His residency, sponsored by Australia Council for the Arts, will provide a variety of exciting, interdisciplinary opportunities to meet the artist and learn about his unique culture and art practice.
In 2000, David Bosun was chosen by elders as one of four artists to begin recording the Islands’ creation stories in the form of printmaking. This marked the first time that traditional stories took visual form since the loss of their material culture to missionaries and collectors a century earlier. Known for its strong figurative imagery and intricate design, or minaral, Bosun’s work reflects Melanesian influences inspired through longstanding trade between Torres Strait Islanders and coastal Papua New Guineans. The linoleum and woodblock prints in the exhibition Ngau Gidthal (My Stories), on view September 6 – December 29 at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, illustrate the ancestral traditions of the Mualgal people, from seasonal indicators used in ancient hunting practices to the significance of the constellations within the celestial sphere.
Museum Director Margo Smith said, “David Bosun’s residency and exhibition will allow us to share the striking contemporary art and culture of Torres Strait Islanders, who are distinct from Aboriginal people on mainland Australia, and whose art is not well represented in the Kluge-Ruhe Collection.”
Bosun’s residency provides a unique opportunity for UVa students and the Charlottesville community to learn from a leading Indigenous Australian artist. He will briefly discuss his work at the opening reception of Ngau Gidthal (My Stories) on Friday, September 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Visitors can engage in depth with the artist the following morning, Saturday, September 7, during a guided tour of his prints at 10:30 am. Bosun will be present for the final Night at the Museum event of the summer, on Thursday, September 19, when the Kluge-Ruhe Collection throws open the doors to its expansive lawn for local beer, food trucks, and live music.
On Tuesday, September 24 at 5:30 pm, Bosun will discuss the breadth of his sculpture and printmaking practice over the last fifteen years in an Artist Talk in U.Va. Campbell Hall room 153, followed by a reception in Ruffin Hall. He will give a presentation on Torres Strait Islander astronomy at McCormick Observatory on Sunday, September 29 at 7 pm.
Bosun will work collaboratively with U.Va. studio art students on carving a wooden pole, the wood of which originates from a recent 250 year old Pecan tree that fell recently at the museum. He will also guest lecture in a printmaking class, and plans to share his knowledge and skill in traditional Torres Strait Islander dance in a course titled The Art of Dance.
David Bosun’s interest in the visual arts began at age four, when he began practicing traditional dancing and singing. He attended Cairns Technical and Further Educational Institute in 1996, and is a founding member of Mualgau Minaral Artist Collective. His work was included in Gelam Nguzu Kazi (Dugong My Son), which was the first touring exhibition of artwork from Moa Island. He is the first resident artist at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection under its prestigious grant from Australia Council for the Arts, which awarded residencies to six Indigenous Australian artists. The exhibition and residency has also been presented in partnership with Ngalmun Lagau Minaral Art Centre and The Australian Art Print Network.
See our events page for a full list of events associated with Bosun’s residency.
A new exhibition of twenty works from the permanent collection titled Heart of the Desert will open on Tuesday and includes paintings from the Aboriginal communities of Papunya, Yuendumu and Balgo.
The central desert of Australia stretches from Lake Eyre in the southeast to the Kimberley Plateau in the northwest. This vast and diverse area is the homeland to people representing many different language and culture groups.
Traditional art from this region was painted on the body or drawn in the sand. Such ephemeral images have inspired more permanent and contemporary art forms, specifically acrylic paintings on board and canvas.
Beginning in 1971 at a government settlement called Papunya, Aboriginal men produced paintings on masonite, wood and eventually canvas. This activity grew into a major art movement that radiated out to the neighboring communities of Yuendumu and Balgo. Men and women artists in each place distinguished their own local style of painting by varying elements like the palette of colors and quality of dots.
The iconography of desert paintings typically represent features of the landscape, ancestral beings and their activities in the creation era known as the Dreaming (Tjukurrpa/Jukurrpa). The concentric circles, wavy lines, and animal tracks that make up the primary design elements of the art of central Australia, express a traditional body of knowledge and relationship to land that has persisted for thousands of years.
NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, and its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians. NAIDOC Week is an annual week-long celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields.
In recognition and celebration, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection will fly the Aboriginal flag for the duration of the week and is offering free, public programs.
SPONSORED BY THE EMBASSY OF AUSTRALIA
Guided Tour with Professor Howard Morphy
Sunday, July 7, 1:00 pm
To kick off NAIDOC Week, Professor Howard Morphy will give a free guided tour of the museum’s current exhibitions. Dr. Morphy is the Director of the Research School of Humanities and the Arts at Australian National University and has served as advisor to the Kluge-Ruhe Collection since 1995. He is the author of several books including Ancestral Connections: Art and an Aboriginal System of Knowledge (University of Chicago Press), Aboriginal Art (Phaidon) and, with Marcus Banks, Rethinking Visual Anthropology (Yale University Press).
Reception with Master Printer Michael Kempson and Curator Tess Allas
Friday, July 12, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Join the Kluge-Ruhe Collection in celebrating the exhibition Black Prints from Cicada Press over wine and hors d’oeuvres. Michael Kempson, Director and Master Printer at Cicada Press, and Tess Allas, lecturer at the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales, will be present to discuss the exhibition and the importance of NAIDOC week for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal Flag Printmaking Workshop
Saturday, July 13, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Make your own Aboriginal flag! In this family workshop, learn about the printmaking process from Michael Kempson and the significance of the Aboriginal flag from Tess Allas. Each participant will leave with their own print of the flag.
In 1988 at the Asia Society Galleries in New York, an exhibition titled Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia changed the way Americans viewed Aboriginal art. Dreamings was pivotal in defining Aboriginal art as contemporary fine art, and as a result, several American collectors including John Kluge were inspired to create world class collections. In the past year, two of these collections appeared in major exhibitions at Seattle Art Museum and the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, demonstrating the growing significance of Aboriginal art to audiences worldwide.
On June 11 at 7 p.m., the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection will host After the Dreamings – 25 Years of Australian Aboriginal Art in the U.S., a moderated discussion with Françoise Dussart and Wally Caruana, two leading figures in the study of Aboriginal art.
“We will explore the impact of the Dreamings exhibition and the changes that have happened in the years since,” said Margo Smith, Director and Curator of the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. “Contemporary Aboriginal art today is very different from 1988 when the Dreamings exhibition was considered cutting edge. Dussart and Caruana can shed a lot of light on how this change occurred and what it means for Aboriginal art.”
Françoise Dussart is a Professor of Anthropology & Women’s Studies at the University of Connecticut. She has conducted field work with Warlpiri people in Yuendumu, NT over the past 30 years and was instrumental in the development of art production in Central Australia. She served on the curatorial committee for Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia and is the author of La Peinture Des Aborigenes D’Australie (Éditions Parenthèses, 1993) and The politics of ritual in an aboriginal settlement: kinship, gender, and the currency of knowledge (Smithsonian, 2000). Dussart recently contributed an essay to the catalogue for Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art which is on exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art through July 14, 2013.
Wally Caruana was Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia from 1984 to 2001, during which time he oversaw the development of one of the most important collections of Indigenous Australian art in a public museum. Caruana is the author of several publications including Aboriginal Art published by Thames and Hudson in 1993 (third edition 2012). Recently Caruana co-curated Ancestral Modern: The Kaplan –Levi Collection of Australian Aboriginal Art at the Seattle Art Museum.
Reservations are required. Please call 434-244-0234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia, in partnership with Australia Council for the Arts, has awarded six residencies over the next three years to artists David Bosun, Nici Cumpston, Bronwyn Bancroft, Marshall Bell, Ricardo Idagi and Bianca Beetson. The recipients were announced at the 6th National Indigenous Arts Awards at the Sydney Opera House, Monday, May 27, 2013. Australia Council will provide partial funding for each residency and supervised the application process. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board Chair, Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin said, “We are thrilled to build such an important international bridge and look forward to the benefits not only for the artists involved but for Indigenous people and cultures in Australia and globally.”
Each four-week residency includes an exhibition at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection and the opportunity to participate in the academic life of the University of Virginia through a variety of programs and collaborative projects. Kluge-Ruhe Director Margo Smith said, “The recipients are all highly accomplished artists whose areas of expertise range from sculpture to printmaking, painting and photography. Each artist will contribute significantly to our community of learning and the student experience at U.Va.”
David Bosun (Mualgal), from Moa Island in the Torres Strait, will undertake the first Australia Council residency in September 2013. He will work with students to carve Mualgal ceremonial poles that both depict and contain the spirits of ancestral beings. An expert printmaker working with linoleum and wood cut processes, Bosun will participate in a print workshop with U.Va. students and faculty.
Nici Cumpston (Barkindji) is a photographer who is also curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide. Cumpston will demonstrate her technique for making hand-colored photographs and create new work focused on the central Virginia environment.
Bronwyn Bancroft (Bundjalung) from New South Wales will expand on the painting techniques and conceptual train of thought developed in her DNA and Linear Linkages series. These works are representative of her connection to country and cultural heritage.
Marshall Bell (Kamilaroi/Yimin) from Brisbane will use the iconography of southeast Australia to revive cultural knowledge that has been concealed by colonization. He will develop a new body of paintings and construct site-specific sculptural projects with U.Va. students.
Ricardo Idagi (Meriam) from Murray Island in the Torres Strait is a sculptor and ceramic artist who will develop new work focused on identity and cultural difference. Idagi’s project involves examining the struggles shared by African Americans and Indigenous Australians in the area of civil rights.
Bianca Beetson (Kabi Kabi/Gabbi Gabbi and Waradjuri) will explore the colonial history of Virginia to develop a greater understanding of its effects on Virginia’s indigenous people. This research will inform Beetson’s artistic practice, which includes painting, photography, sculpture, textiles and new media.
“The knowledge and skills of this group of artists extends far beyond the studio,” added Smith. “We are looking forward to creating many programs across disciplines to involve as many students as possible in these residencies.”
The Kluge-Ruhe Collection began offering artist residencies in 2011 and has hosted artists Reko Rennie, Ricky Maynard, Judy Watson, Vernon Ah Kee and Yhonnie Scarce. The extended length of the Australia Council residencies will allow for more expansive creative projects and prolonged engagement with students in a variety of disciplines.
For its summer exhibition the Kluge-Ruhe Collection has partnered with Cicada Press to showcase the work of Australian Aboriginal artists working in the printmaking medium.
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.
The title Black Prints is a word play on the Australian child’s summer obsession of collecting cicada carcasses. While ‘Greengrocers’ are the most common species of cicada, many of them can be traded for just one of the rarely found, but highly prized ‘Black Prince.’ Fittingly, spring 2013 marks the emergence of 17-year cicadas in our area.
The exhibition is part of the Kluge-Ruhe Collection’s celebration of NAIDOC week. NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week is a national Australian celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields. Details on programs celebrating NAIDOC week will be released in late May.
The public is invited for a reception to celebrate the opening of Black Prints from Cicada Press, along with the reopening of the museum’s permanent exhibition Past Forward >> Contemporary Aboriginal Art, on Friday, May 31 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.