Recent News at Kluge-Ruhe

Newest exhibition and residency: Carol McGregor • Monday January 15, 2018

The Kluge-Ruhe Collection is pleased to announce that its newest exhibition, Repositories of Recognition, will feature recent artwork made by Aboriginal Australian artist Carol McGregor. McGregor’s artwork explores how Indigenous identity has been stereotyped and primitivized in the tourist trade, and how the revival of traditional practices can demonstrate her people’s complexity and diversity.

Since the 1950s, the images on linen tea towels produced for the tourist trade have both appropriated Aboriginal designs and misrepresented Aboriginal people as “noble savages.” McGregor has been collecting these tea towels for years, and in some of the works on view at Kluge-Ruhe, she has strategically embroidered over them, creating new subversive meanings from the original content.

In the central piece of the exhibition, not a calendar girl, McGregor has cut up the tea towels and reconstructed them as aprons, literally deconstructing the original meaning by turning them inside out and embroidering her own messages on top of them. The aprons are also a reference to the many Aboriginal people who were forced into domestic service as a result of colonization. Beneath the aprons, she places bags made from natural possum skins. Possum skins were historically sewn together into cloaks for practical purposes (as coats, blankets, baby wraps or rugs in winter), but were also incised and painted with sacred designs, serving as containers of Indigenous identity. By placing these two disparate forms of artworks in conversation with each other, McGregor exposes the harm done by the ongoing misrepresentation of Indigenous identity in the media, and contradicts it with a statement about the sophisticated identities mapped on possum skins.

Curator Henry Skerritt explains that “This powerful body of work resonates with the contemporary struggles of Native and African American communities to shake the insidious effects of stereotyping. At a time when numerous professional sporting teams in the US persist in using racially charged mascots and emblems, McGregor’s work points to the continuing pain that such representations embody.”

Carol McGregor is an Indigenous Australian artist of Wathaurung and Scottish descent, and Repositories of Recognition encapsulates both sides of her biracial identity. She holds a Bachelor’s in Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art and Fine Art from the Queensland College of Art, and is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at Griffith University.

Repositories of Recognition will be on view January 19 – May 13, 2018. McGregor will visit Charlottesville as an artist-in-residence from February 1 – 27, 2018. There are a number of opportunities for the public to meet Carol and learn more about her art practice. She will be present for questions and conversation at the opening reception on Friday, February 9 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm; she will give a tour of the exhibition on Saturday, February 10 at 10:30 am, and she will deliver an artist talk on Thursday, February 22 at 6:00 pm. In addition to these events, she will be making a possum skin cloak while she is here, guest-lecturing to various classes at UVA and will present a public workshop at a date to be determined. Check kluge-ruhe.org for updated details. McGregor’s residency is supported by Australia Council for the Arts.

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