Aboriginal art on display at Dartmouth College

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 4:35 PM EDT
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HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) - “If you are going to paint the land, use the land” is a saying from Indigenous people in northern Australia. Now, a project seven years in the making that features that artwork from the other side of the world is on display at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art.

“For the first time, American audiences are being introduced to one of the most important artistic traditions of the 20th century,” said Henry Skerritt, curator of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia.

The exhibition is called “Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala.” Yirrkala is a remote area in northern Australia that is home to the Yolŋu Community. Ninety-one paintings are on display but these are not your ordinary paintings. “On pieces of bark stripped from the eucalyptus tree. They are then softened, flattened, and painted with natural pigments,” Skerritt: explained.

Artists from the Yolŋu community helped kick off the exhibition’s first stop on a nationwide tour.

“Educating outside world,” said artist Ishmael Marika, whose entire family helped create the works on display. He is responsible for the video. “I’m just happy for all of the paintings here in the other side of the world and make me proud seeing my grandmother’s painting. Makes me think she is here for me.”

And their culture is now being shared with the world. It’s fitting the first stop is at Dartmouth, a college with deep ties to Native Americans.

“To be at an institution like Dartmouth, where we have such a connection and a mission to educate Indigenous students, to bring global Indigenous art to campus and to the Hood Museum of Art is a great opportunity,” said the Hood’s Jami Powell.

The museum is hosting a community event Saturday to celebrate the exhibition. It will be on display at Dartmouth until December 4th. The exhibit is free and open to the public.