Recent News at Kluge-Ruhe

Artist and Curator Nici Cumpston Visits Kluge-Ruhe for Residency • Monday March 10, 2014

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

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 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

older »