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.