Groundbreaking Aboriginal Art Exhibition Showcases Five Decades of Contemporary Work

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A groundbreaking exploration of contemporary art-making practices among Australia’s Indigenous peoples, drawn from one of the world’s largest private collections of Aboriginal art, will open at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College in September 2012.

“Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art” will provide a survey of Australia’s contemporary Indigenous art movement from the 1970s to the present, with a particular focus on the new generation of artistic voices within the Aboriginal community who are advancing Aboriginal artistic traditions in the 21st century. The exhibition highlights the Hood’s Indigenous art holdings and will be among the flagship programming initiatives of Dartmouth’s campus-wide celebration of the arts during the 2012–13 academic year.

Shorty Jangala Robertson, Warlpiri, Ngapa Jukurrpa—Puyurru (Water Dreaming at Puyurru), 2007, acrylic on canvas

“Crossing Cultures” is a geographically organized survey of more than 100 objects from the collection of Will Owen and Harvey Wagner, including: Shorty Jangala Robertson, Warlpiri, Ngapa Jukurrpa—Puyurru (Water Dreaming at Puyurru), 2007, acrylic on canvas. (Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Promised gift of Will Owen and Harvey Wagner; EL.2011.60.45. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VISCOPY, Australia)

On view from September 15, 2012, through March 10, 2013, “Crossing Cultures” is a geographically organized survey of more than 100 objects from the collection of Will Owen and Harvey Wagner, who have donated more than 500 works to Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art.

Curated by Stephen Gilchrist, the Hood’s curator of Indigenous Australian art, 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, among other media. It blends the historical traditions and contemporary realities of Aboriginal life with works that draw on the ancestral narratives of the past displayed alongside photographic depictions of the Indigenous experience in contemporary urban settings.

The exhibition includes such artists as John Mawurndjul, Djambawa Marawili, Naata Nungurrayi, Destiny Deacon, Paddy Bedford, and Doreen Reid Nakamarra.

“ ‘Crossing Cultures’ showcases the exceptional strengths of Will Owen and Harvey Wagner’s magnificent collection, the donation of which has transformed the Hood Museum into a leading destination for the study and exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art,” said Michael Taylor, director of the Hood Museum of Art. “We’re delighted to contribute to Dartmouth’s upcoming Year of the Arts with an exhibition that showcases one of the unique aspects of the Hood Museum’s collection and offers rich opportunities for curricular and co-curricular connections across the campus.”

In conjunction with “Crossing Cultures,” the Hood Museum of Art will host a series of public programs that offer cross-disciplinary perspectives on the exhibition’s themes and content and create new opportunities for engagement with Aboriginal art. The opening of “Crossing Cultures” will coincide with a reception and symposium on Friday, September 21, that convenes leading artists, curators, activists, and lawyers for a discussion of the issues surrounding the reception and recognition of Indigenous art.

The exhibition is also accompanied by a series of public lectures and tours by participating artists, scholars, and curators, as well as collector Will Owen, who will further explore these topics. A complete list of programming can be found here.

The slideshow below includes a sampling of art from the “Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art” exhibition that will open at the Hood Museum in September.