Works by contemporary female artists from remote Aboriginal areas to tour North America for the next two years

Miami’s The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU will exhibit the work of nine contemporary female artists hailing from remote Aboriginal areas, in an exhibition called Making the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia.

Artists featured are Nonggirrnga Marawili, Wintjiya Napaltjarri, Yukultji Napangati, Angelina Pwerle, Carlene West, Regina Pilawuk Wilson, Lena Yarinkura, Gulumbu Yunupingu and Nyapanyapa Yunupingu. The Miami leg of the tour will be housed in the FIU’s Grand Galleries, spanning more than 4,000 square feet.

The exhibition opens on Saturday, 28th January with a free reception from 4pm to 7pm, and will be on show until 7th May. The reception will also include a special walk-through presentation for the public by Dennis Scholl and curator Henry Skerritt.

The artworks will tour throughout North America for the next two years, and will be available for viewing at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona, the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The collection was curated by Florida-based collectors and philanthropists Debra and Dennis Scholl. Many of the pieces are being exhibited for the first time.

Tjitjjiti, 2015, Carlene West (Acrylic on linen)

This is a significant exhibition – until the 1980s, women in Aboriginal cultures were unable to paint for a living. When Aboriginal Australian men began to claim a viable market for their art production, women followed suit. Making the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia shares the experiences of women artists who overcame challenges to prepare themselves who have risen to the challenge of becoming new leaders of their communities. By the mid-1990s, women had taken over the reins of the movement. The artists are some of the most celebrated artists in Australia, and all nine of the artists have works in the Australian National Museum’s collection.

“These women have re-drawn the boundaries of Aboriginal art and are re-defining the vision of contemporary art,” says Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, Director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU. “With subject matter ranging from faraway celestial bodies to the tiniest of flowers on the native bush plum, they assert the wisdom of revered matriarchs and grapple with the most fundamental questions of existence.”

For example, Nyapanyapa Yunupingu’s work has been shown at the Sydney Biennale. Her sister, Gulumbu Yunupingu, has work in the permanent collection of the Musée du quai Branly in Paris. Regina Wilson’s work was shown at the Moscow Biennale.

Philanthropists Debra and Dennis Scholl commissioned these pieces specifically for the exhibition’s tour, allowing some of the artists to work at a much larger scale they had not previously attempted. American Dennis Scholl was particularly moved by the artwork. “This is an opportunity to witness a new, contemporary manifestation of the longest continuing art-making culture known to humanity, going back more than 40,000 years”, he says. “Miami has become a hotbed for contemporary art, and Marking the Infinite provides audiences the opportunity to experience the vital, vibrant presence of these works from a seldom seen culture”.

Yawkyawk, 2015, Lena Yarinkura (Twined pandanus palm leaf, paperbark, natural pigments & feathers)

Curator Henry Skerritt praises the artists as “globally alert”. He says, “There has never been a more urgent need for contemporary artists to imagine our shared predicament as the diverse occupants of the same planet”.

“The dream that globalisation once held is in danger of being eclipsed by an equally global crisis, and a clarion call has sounded from this most unlikely of remote places for their unique perspectives and wisdom of the peripheries. They are well primed to comment on our times, presenting visions that are global and planetary in scope, but also human in scale”.

Making the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia was first unveiled at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno under the guidance of William Fox, Director of the Centre for Art and Environment, and Henry Skerritt, Curator of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Collection of the University of Virginia. The New York Times has called the exhibition “A landmark exhibition … critically lauded, innovative works”.

The catalogue accompanying the exhibition features essays with some of the world’s leading experts in Aboriginal art, including Hetti Perkins, Tina Baum, Cara Pinchbeck, Howard Morphy, John Carty, and Henry Skerritt.

The exhibition will continue to travel throughout North America for the next two years, to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona, the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

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