Kluge-Ruhe Welcomes Aboriginal Sculptor for Three-Week Residency

September 04, 2014

The Kluge-Ruhe Aborginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia will host artist Ricardo Idagi, a multimedia sculptor and musician from Melbourne, from Sept. 15 through Oct. 4. His residency and exhibition, sponsored by the Australia Council for the Arts, will provide a number of opportunities to meet the artist and learn about his culture and artwork.

Idagi grew up on Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait, north of mainland Australia. He was encouraged to produce art by two uncles, one of whom was Eddie Koiki Mabo, who is famous internationally for winning native title rights to Mer Island in 1993.

The exhibition of Idagi’s artwork at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, titled “Gurari – Saltwater Drinker,” brings together works from the last five years that serve as a visual memoir of Mer. The work also honors the rich cultural heritage of Meriam people and Idagi’s own personal resilience.

His sculptures are made of a wide variety of materials, from raffia and feathers to beer cans and wrought iron. The works comment on political and social issues facing Torres Strait Islanders today, such as multigenerational alcoholism and the impact of the Anglican mission on the island.

Idagi took a commercial art course at Cairns Technical and Further Educational Institute and settled in Melbourne in 1997. He initially gained recognition at the exhibition “Ilan Pasin (This is our way): Torres Strait Art in 1998” and held his first solo exhibition in 2002. He has been included in a number of major exhibitions over the last five years and has won two prestigious Australian art awards: the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award in 2009 and the New Media category of the 28th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2011.

His work is held in the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, among others.

Idagi’s residency provides a rare opportunity for the community to learn from a leading indigenous Australian sculptor. He will meet visitors Sept. 18 at the final “Night at the Museum” event of the summer, when the Kluge-Ruhe Collection throws open its doors to its expansive lawn for local beer, food trucks and live music.

Visitors can also see and hear about Idagi’s work in depth at a gallery talk on Sept. 20 at 10:30 a.m., or at his artist talk on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.

Idagi – the third resident artist at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection under its grant from the Australia Council for the Arts – will also work with U.Va. students in a number of courses. The exhibition and residency have been presented in partnership with Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne and U.Va.’s McIntire Department of Art.

The schedule of Idagi’s exhibition and residency is listed below. All events are held at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, located on Worrell Drive on Pantops Mountain.

  • Sept. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Opening Reception, free and open to the public, of “Gurari – Saltwater Drinker”
  • Sept. 18, 5-9 p.m. Night at the Museum with Ricardo Idagi. Admission is $5 (free for museum members).
  • Sept. 20, 10:30 a.m. Gallery Talk with Ricardo Idagi. The event is free and open to the public.
  • Sept. 23, 7 p.m. Artist Talk and reception. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required by calling 434-244-0234 or emailing kluge-ruhe@virginia.edu.

Media Contact

Lauren Maupin

Kluge-Ruhe Collection