Tomorrow (Thursday) 5-7pm is the opening of an exciting new art exhibition at Stanford. Several Martu Aboriginal artists (who I had the good fortune to stay with and learn from in Parnngurr Aboriginal Community in 2009) are exhibiting their strikingly beautiful paintings of their homeland, Western Australia’s Pilbara region.
Here is a description of the show provided by Doug Bird, a Stanford anthropologist who has been working with the Martu for over 10 years:
“Waru! Holding fire in Australia’s Western Desert – a unique exhibition merging science and indigenous art marking the lived relationships among indigenous Martu of Australia’s Western Desert; their foraging economy, ritual arts, the expression of these on the landscape, and their links to desert biodiversity. The nexus of these relationships is distilled in the concept and practice of waru, which translates as fire. Here, Martu have chosen the title of the exhibition for its many meanings: Martu artists are cultural ambassadors, to spread, like fire, knowledge of their heritage and land; moreover, Martu artists are the literal agents of fire, applying fire to their country in the course of their daily foraging practice, resulting in the maintenance of key components of arid grassland biodiversity.
“Stanford University researchers have been working with Martu people and communities for more than ten years, on projects that are central to the cultural, social and creative universe of Martu people, including land use, fire, flora and fauna and the intersection of these physical phenomena with the mythological and metaphysical worldviews of the Martu. It is from the same interplay between these forces that the stories, content and confidence to produce exceptional art is derived.
“This exhibition at Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery is the result of a three year collaboration between Stanford University and Martumili Artists. It showcases the extraordinary depth and range of work being produced by the Martu artists and educates audiences about how these paintings describe the physical, religious, political and familial worlds of the Martu.”
Come check out the show if you can! Details about where & when are embedded in the promotional poster below.