Aboriginal art is a category that is often overlooked in Art History Survey courses. However, it is interesting to note the way contemporary Aboriginal art interacts with the Western art market.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye was an Australian Aboriginal artist (1910-1996) whose work transcended its indigenous tradition.
Kngwarreye began her art career around the age of 80, beginning with hand-dyed batiks, intended as garments and ephemera for traditional women's ceremonies.
Kngwarreye eventually began working with paint and canvas, creating works inspired by the physical landscape of her home in the Northern Territory.
A key subject of Kngwarreye's work is the yam, the primary food source of her tribe.
Kngwarreye's work gained critical attention after a number of international exhibitions of Australian Aboriginal art, and it wasn't long before her home was flooded with prospective art dealers.
In May of 2007, Kngwarreye's painting Earth's Creation set a record for the highest amount ever paid at auction for an Aboriginal work, selling for over $1 million. Unfortunately, Kngwarreye did not live to experience her international art world fame, but she set a new precedent for the commercial value of Australian Aboriginal art.
Inspired by Kngwarreye's paintings, I wore a 1960's Bill Blass dress and jacket, vintage necklace, vintage snakeskin clutch, and Theory sandals. For the record, this Bill Blass set is my all-time favorite Goodwill find, and no alterations were needed! Meant for each other.
[Kngwarreye images from slowpainters.wordpress.com and thisfabtrek.com.]