Aboriginal Art in America, Again (Summer 2012)

Native people from many cultures make art generated from the heart and rooted deeply in place. This summer, there are several U.S. shows of contemporary Aboriginal artists from Australia. Come September a major exhibition of Aboriginal art opens at Dartmouth College. Here is a review of a new show in NYC.

Aboriginal Art & Culture: an American eye

At the risk of repeating myself, this is an extraordinary year for Aboriginal Australian Art in America.  This week I’m not going to comment again on Ancestral Modern at the Seattle Art Museum (other than to plug it one more time).  But I still have four other shows to report on that are all either on view now across the country, or will be opening soon.  Let’s start in New York City, where London-based gallerist Rebecca Hossack opened an exhibition of works by Barrupu Yunupingu 10 days ago.

Follow the link to the web site: it showcases a lovely and diverse set of examples of Barrupu’s styles of painting the Ancestral Fire that scorched the back of Baru the crocodile and that still burns beneath the sea off the east coast of Arnhem Land.  Documentation from Buku-Larrnggay Mulka explains the motifs she uses and the stories behind them.

In ancestral…

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3 thoughts on “Aboriginal Art in America, Again (Summer 2012)

  1. When I first saw this post I didn’t know what to say. My first thought was to wonder what Americans make of Australian Indigenous art.

    Silly me, always jumping to the intellectual first. As you say, it is generated from heart and place, and so there is only question “how does it make you feel?”. With this art, you sit with it for a while and listen to how it stirs your soul and how it sings to you.

    As Bruce Chatwin says ‘I have a vision of the Songlines stretching across the continents and ages; that wherever men have trodden they have left a trail of song; and that these trails must reach back, in time and space, to an isolated pocket in the African savannah, where the First Man shouted the opening stanza to the World Song, “I am!”‘ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Songlines)

    1. Oh! What a wonderful response to the post!

      I’m also not sure what most Americans make of Aboriginal art. We were looking at First Nations Art while in Nova Scotia, having been lucky enough to visit three major exhibitions. The gallery folks always seeme surprised that these two Americans would be visiting. When we explained our tribal backgrounds, they got more excited and told us about the art and artists. I guess all this does not reflect well on Americans in general.

      All of this does not change the fact that Australian Aboriginal art is very different from most of what we produce. That said, I have been fascinated by it since way back in collage. I think it sings the Earth and the Great Mystery.

      Michael Watson, LCMHC JourneyWorks 11 Kilburn Street Burlington, VT 05401 802-860-6203 http://journeyworksvt.com https://michaelwatsonvt.wordpress.com/

      1. I was glad to see that the Aunties were at the exhibition. I can only imagine their awe at visiting New York from their remote and arid traditional lands.

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