Art By Shane Pickett

Art By Shane Pickett
Touring exhibits of Indigenous Australian Art is not a common sight on U.S. soil, thus, to have one in your own backyard is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That is why Executive Director Karla Hostetler of Peterborough’s Mariposa Museum was ecstatic to find out that Shane Pickett, a prominent Australian Aboriginal artist, would have an exhibit of his catalog held at the University of Virginia.
The exhibit, entitled ‘Djinong Djina Boodja’ (Look at the Land that I have traveled) was brought into the U.S. through the combined efforts of Dr. Henry Skerritt, curator at the Kulge-Ruhe Collection of Aboriginal Art from the University, and the Mossenson Art Foundation. These parties worked diligently to bring Pickett’s work to the States for the first time ever.
After learning of this, Hostetler reached out to Dr. Skerritt and found that Pickett’s exhibit was set to return to Australia after the summer. With a bit of convincing, however, the Mossensons agreed to allow it one more stop: The Mariposa Museum and World Culture Center.
“Shane Picket was one of the foremost Aboriginal artists of Western Australia. So, we are very excited to be able to bring an exhibit of his caliber to the Monadnock Region,” said Hostetler when asked what made her choose this exhibit for the museum. Hostetler then went on to discuss that the Mariposa is a museum of world cultures and human understanding, aiming to share perspectives that people of other cultures bring to the challenges we face as a global human family.
“The aboriginal cultures of Australia, with the deep reverence for the earth and their unique way of understanding “The Dreamtime” or the living spirit expressing itself through the landscape and through the beings who share the earth, have a perspective that can help us understand the planet in a new way,” she said when asked how the exhibit aligns with the museum’s sensibilities.
The 29 works that are featured in the Djinong Djina Boodja (Look at the Land That I Have Travelled) are from the most radical and significant phase of Pickett’s career and are the first major exhibition of his work in the US.
Shane Pickett was born in 1957 in Quairading, Western Australia to the Nyoongar peoples and was given the Nyoongar name Meeyakba, meaning ‘soft light of the moon.’ In Nyoongar culture, painting is a spiritual practice, one Pickett took seriously through his use of deep knowledge and concern for his culture, and a confident and unique style of gestural abstraction. Throughout his life, he used many mediums even painting with his fingers as his Rheumatoid arthritis made it more difficult to hold paintbrushes.
Picket passed in 2010 at the age of 52, leaving behind a catalog of paintings that resonate with ancient spirituality, complex visual vocabulary, and an expression of endurance and persistence from the Nyoongar Culture in the face of colonial modernity.
When asked if there is a message in the exhibit, personally or for others to find, Hostetler responded “Every visitor will naturally experience the exhibit differently and find different things of meaning in it.” The exhibit will also include a station where kids and adults can experiment with finger paintings and step into Picketts’ shoes. This is similar to the Museum’s other exhibit, “Kids Draw Themselves in the Pandemic”, which invites children to see how kids from other countries portrayed themselves during the trying times of the last few years and to create their own self-portraits.
To educate those who are interested in who Shane Pickett was and the artwork of the exhibit, there will be a talk led by Dr. Skerritt at the Mariposa’s annual fundraiser and party. It will be held on September 20th, at Lakefalls Lodge in Stoddard, NH. Tickets for the event may be purchased on the museum’s website or by calling (603) 924-4555.
The exhibit, Djinong Djina Boodja (Look at the Land that I have traveled) will be available to view until October 31st when it is returned to Australia.
The Mariposa Museum and World Culture Center is located at 26 Main Street in Peterborough, New Hampshire with wheelchair accessibility and are open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 to 5. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for children, and free for Mariposa Members. For more information, please visit www.mariposamuseum.org.
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