The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture will open the new temporary exhibition Shane Pickett: Djinong Djina Boodja (Look at the Land That I Have Travelled) from January 14, 2022–May 7, 2022. The exhibition explores the artwork of Shane Pickett (1957-2010), one of Western Australia’s most significant contemporary Aboriginal artists.
Featuring 29 works from the most radical and significant phase of Shane Pickett’s career, Djinong Djina Boodja (Look at the Land That I Have Travelled) is the first major exhibition of Pickett’s work in the US. Pickett’s paintings capture the transformations of the country near Perth in the south-west of Australia in ever-changing and innovative ways. Over the course of his three-decade career, Pickett developed a new visual language to represent the cornerstones of the culture of his Nyoongar people: the pathways of ancestors, traditional healing practices and places, and especially the six seasons used by the Nyoongar to divide the year.
“The McClung Museum is honored to be the only museum of world cultures in our region. As such we are delighted to bring the work of pre-eminent artist, Shane Pickett, to the University of Tennessee. We hope that our visitors gain an appreciation for Nyoongar Aboriginal artistic traditions and the culture of Western Australia through his striking works in this exhibition,” said Claudio Gómez, Jefferson Chapman Executive Director.
Djinong Djina Boodja (Look at the Land That I Have Travelled) shows the developments in the last decade of Pickett’s career, as his work transformed from figurative landscape painting into a groundbreaking and expressive form of gestural abstraction. It was during this period that Pickett achieved his greatest acclaim, with his works being exhibited across Australia and acquired by major institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. The 29 works in the exhibition present a snapshot of these experiments, as Pickett explores the complex connections between the earth, creation, and spirituality that are united in the Aboriginal concept of “Dreaming,” or how life came to be.
Pickett described his paintings as ‘windows into the Dreaming’, and the strength of his culture is delivered through his work with breathtaking lyrical intensity. His paintings show the persistence and adaptability of Aboriginal ways of seeing the country in the face of colonization. Shane Pickett’s Nyoongar name, Meeyakba, or ‘soft light of the moon,’ captures the spirit of an artist who set a beacon for those who follow him. The exhibition features a short documentary on the extraordinary life of Pickett through the words of family and friends. One of the great innovators of Australian landscape painting, he is remembered as one of the pre-eminent Aboriginal Australian artists of his time.
“Shane Pickett’s art and his story are incredibly inspiring,” said Cat Shteynberg, Assistant Director and Curator at the McClung Museum. “Even in the wake of the environmental destruction of his homeland and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, he spoke of the persistence of both Dreaming energy and the capacity for art to heal. I hope that others can take this powerful message to heart through his vibrant prints and paintings.”
In addition to the exhibition at McClung Museum, programs centered around the themes of the exhibition. These include “Meditation @ the Museum” each Friday in February and a lecture by Henry Skerritt, PhD, the curator of the Indigenous Arts of Australia at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia. Dr. Skerritt’s lecture will occur on February 23 at 7:30pm. Additional information and events can be found on the museum’s website at mcclungmuseum.utk.edu.
Djinong Djina Boodja (Look at the Land That I Have Travelled) is a partnership between the Embassy of Australia, Washington DC; the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia; and the Mossenson Art Foundation of Perth, Australia. It is sponsored at the McClung Museum through the generosity of Home Light.