Visions of Infinity

by Aboriginal Women Artists

text + photos courtesy of Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

These paintings are filled with traditional abstract Aboriginal iconography denoting nature, spirits, and a way of life that has been passed down for generations.

Regina Pilawuk Wilson, Sun Mat, 2015, Synthetic polymer paint on canvas.

Some historians continue to question whether works filled with indigenous spiritual symbols and stories of a particular sect of people can be considered “art” at all. Critics claim that Aboriginal art does not meet the Western criteria of art as a platform for innovation and self-expression.

The exhibition, Marking the Infinite, comprised of commissioned works by Aboriginal women artists from the Denis and Debra Scholl Collection at the Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University, will put these doubts to rest. Curated by Aboriginal art scholar Henry F. Skerritt, this breathtaking display of work made by women from different indigenous clans in Australia falls squarely within the realm of contemporary art.

Wintjiya Napaltjarri, Women’s Ceremonies at Watanuma, 2007, Acrylic on Belgian linen.

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists From Aboriginal Australia, featuring the work of nine contemporary women artists hailing from remote Aboriginal areas: Nonggirrnga Marawili, Wintjiya Napaltjarri, Yukultji Napangati, Angelina Pwerle, Carlene West, Regina Pilawuk Wilson, Lena Yarinkura, Gulumbu Yunupingu and Nyapanyapa Yunupingu.

This leg of the national tour features the full breadth of the collection with 70 works showcased in two of the museum’s galleries. Miami-based collectors and philanthropists Debra and Dennis Scholl have lent the artworks, many of which are being seen publicly for the first time. The exhibit opens on September 23. A reception, scheduled for October 13, is free and open to the public.

Nyapanyapa Yunupingu, Light Painting, 2012, Light (or animated white paint pen on 110 acetates).

The exhibition features some of the most acclaimed artists in Australia, all of whom have works in the Australian National Museum’s collection. 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.

Until the ‘80s, women in these Aboriginal cultures were not given the opportunity to paint for the market.  Marking the Infinite gives voice and equal footing to Aboriginal artists as artists the world over. As Aboriginal Australian men began to sell their artwork, women followed suit. This exhibition also narrates a story about a deeply profound sisterhood of women artists, who have risen to the challenge of becoming new leaders of their communities.

Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists From Aboriginal Australia

September 23 – January 21

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art