Australian Aboriginal Art Symposium Set for Nora Ecceles Harrison Museum of Art, 11/16

Australian Aboriginal Art Symposium Set for Nora Ecceles Harrison Museum of Art, 11/16The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) at Utah State University in Logan Utah, will present a symposium titled "Then and Now: Australian Aboriginal Painting of the Western Desert (1971-Present)" on Monday, November 16, 2015.

The symposium is organized on the occasion of NEHMA's current exhibition Abstraction and the Dreaming: Aboriginal Painting in Australia's Western Desert (1971-Present) and its complementary exhibition Transcendence: Abstraction and Symbolism in the American West. The two presentations explore abstraction and symbolism in 20th and 21st century artistic practices from very different areas of the world -- the Papunya region of the Australian Western Desert and the American West, and the rich cross-cultural dialogues and multi-cultural histories that they represent.

The first Papunya painters were men whose extensive cultural knowledge of ancestral stories, referred to as "Dreamings," provided the subject matter. Encouraged by a Sydney schoolteacher in the 1970s, who provided materials -- acrylic paint and masonite boards and, later, canvas -- to create permanent works, the artists employed symbols used in other contexts. These included drawing in the sand to accompany storytelling or body painting and constructing designs on the ground for ceremonial rituals. The early "Papunya boards" are descendants of mark-making that dates to well over 100 centuries ago and are the beginning of the Western Desert art movement.

Speakers include:

Howard Murphy, PhD, Professor of Anthropology in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, will explore the role of abstraction in Australian Aboriginal Art prior to 1971;

Fred Myers, PhD., Silver Professor of Anthropology, New York University, will describe his first-hand experience working with Aboriginal Artists in the Western Desert in the early 1970s (via Skype);

Katie Lee Koven, NEHMA Director and Chief Curator, will moderate a discussion featuring collectors John and Barbara Wilkerson (John is an Alumnus of Utah State University) and Dennis Scholl who are lenders of works to the Aboriginal art exhibition;

Margo Smith, PhD., Director and Curator, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, and guest curator of the NEHMA Aboriginal exhibition, will speak about women artists of the Papunya/Tula regions; and

John Carty, PhD., Anthropology Research Fellow, Australian National University, will give a presentation on Aboriginal abstraction in the 21st century.


Monday, November 16, 2015

1:30 - 5:30 pm

Caine Performance Hall, Utah State University, Logan, Utah

For information about attending the symposium contact Andrea DeHaan, Administrative Coordinator at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art,

The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting modern and contemporary visual art to promote dialogue about ideas fundamental to contemporary society. NEHMA provides meaningful engagement with art from the 20th and 21st centuries to support the educational mission of Utah State University, in Logan, Utah. NEHMA offers complementary public programs such as lectures, panels, tours, concerts, and symposia to serve the University and regional community. Admission is free and open to the public. Hours are Tuesday?Saturday from 10am to 5pm and by appointment.

Pictured: Tommy Lowry Yjapaltjarri, Two Men's Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya, 1984, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 49 1/6 inches x 72 15/16 inches. Collection of John and Barbara Wilkerson. © Estate of the artist licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd.