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New Aboriginal art on display in Toledo PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Saturday, 13 April 2013 08:28
Ricky Maynard (Big River/Ben Lomond, born 1953, Launceston, Tasmania) Wik Elder, Arthur (from the series Returning to Places that Name Us), 2000.
TOLEDO - The first major exhibition of Aboriginal Australian art in the U.S. Midwest in more than 20 years opened Friday at the Toledo Museum of Art.
Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art from the Hood Museum of Art includes approximately 120 works of contemporary Indigenous art from Australia spanning five decades by artists from urban and rural communities. Most of the works, however, were created after 2000 and broaden the definition of Aboriginal art, reinforcing the idea that Indigenous art and contemporary art are not contradictory terms.
The exhibit continues through July 14.
"This extraordinarily captivating and visually dazzling exhibition continues the Toledo Museum of Art's historical legacy of bringing important and often unfamiliar art and culture to its audiences," said Museum Director Brian Kennedy. "In this era of increasing globalization, innovation and intercultural exchange, it is critical that museums stretch and challenge their artistic comfort zones."
Kennedy, who wrote an essay for the exhibition catalog, became acquainted with Indigenous Australian artists while serving as director of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra from 1997 to 2004. He later met art collectors Will Owen and Harvey Wagner when he hosted an Aboriginal art exhibition in 2006 while director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.
Owen and Wagner, who first became interested in Indigenous Australian art in 1988, donated 400 works from their collection to the Hood Museum of Art in 2009 and 2011. In addition to being a collector, Owen writes a weekly blog on Aboriginal art and culture.
Among artists represented in the exhibition are Michael Riley, Shorty Jangala Robertson, Danny Gibson Tjapaltjarri, Destiny Deacon and Walangkura Napanangka.
Curated by Stephen Gilchrist, curator of Indigenous Australian art at the Hood Museum of Art, and coordinated in Toledo by Brian Kennedy, the exhibition encompasses the broad range of media and materials employed by contemporary Aboriginal artists, from acrylic painting on canvas to earthen ochre painting on bark, as well as sculpture and photography. It was not until the early 1970s that many Indigenous Australians began to record their ancestral stories with permanent materials.
The focus is on young artists who are breathing new life into ancient stories and broadening the possibilities of Indigenous Australian art and, consequently, visitors will see contemporary paintings that summon aspects of "the Dreaming" as well as photographs from urban-based artists who depict the contemporary realities of Indigenous Australians.
For Indigenous Australian peoples the Dreaming refers to ancestral stories about the creation of the universe, the spiritual beings who journeyed across and named the land and the social and religious laws they passed down.
Admission to the exhibition and to the Museum is free.

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