In September, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia will host artist David Bosun, a printmaker and woodcarver from Moa Island in the Torres Strait. He is the first resident artist at the museum under a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts, which will sponsor residencies for six Indigenous Australian artists at the museum over the next three years.
Bosun’s residency will offer several opportunities to meet the artist and learn about his unique culture and art practice, and will give U.Va. students from a variety of disciplines and the Charlottesville community a chance to learn from a leading Indigenous Australian artist.
“Bosun’s residency and exhibition will allow us to share the striking contemporary art and culture of Torres Strait Islanders, who are distinct from Aboriginal people on mainland Australia and whose art is not well represented in the Kluge-Ruhe Collection,” museum director Margo Smith said.
Bosun will work collaboratively with studio art students from the McIntire Department of Art in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences as they carve a pole with wood from a 250-year-old pecan tree that recently fell at the Kluge-Ruhe grounds.
Bosun will also lecture to a printmaking class in U.Va.’s art department, and plans to share his knowledge and skill in traditional Torres Strait Islander in a dance course called “The Art of Dance.”
An exhibition of Bosun’s linoleum and woodblock prints, “Ngau Gidthal (My Stories),” will run from Sept. 6 to Dec. 29 at the museum. The exhibited examples of his work illustrate the ancestral traditions of the Mualgal people of the north Moa Islands – from their seasonal indicators used in ancient hunting practices to the significance of the constellations within the celestial sphere.
Bosun will discuss his work at the opening reception of the exhibit on Sept. 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. On Sept. 7 at 10:30 a.m., visitors will have a chance to engage further with Bosun during a guided tour of his prints.
Bosun was chosen by elders in 2000 as one of four artists to begin recording the Moa Islands’ creation stories in the form of printmaking. This marked the first time that traditional stories in the islands took visual form since the loss of material culture to missionaries and collectors a century earlier.
With its strong figurative imagery and intricate design known as “minaral,” Bosun’s work reflects influences inspired through long-standing trade between Torres Strait Islanders and coastal Papua New Guineans.
His interest in the visual arts began at age 4, when he first began practicing traditional dancing and singing. In 1996, he attended Cairns Technical and Further Educational Institute, and is a founding member of Mualgau Minaral Artist Collective. His work was included in “Gelam Nguzu Kazi (Dugong My Son),” which was the first touring exhibition of artwork from Moa Island.
On Sept. 19 from 5 to 9 p.m., Bosun will be present for Kluge-Ruhe’s final “Night at the Museum” event of the summer, when the museum hosts an event with local beer, food trucks and live music with Charlottesville band The Dericks. The event is $5 for nonmembers and free for museum members.
On Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m., Bosun will discuss the breadth of his sculpture and printmaking practice over the past 15 years in a talk in Campbell Hall, room 153. During a reception in Ruffin Hall following the talk, the wooden sculpture that Bosun carves in collaboration with U.Va. studio art students will be on display.
On Sept. 29 at 7 p.m., Bosun will present “Moa Stars, Moa Stories: Astronomy from a Torres Strait Perspective,” a talk at U.Va.’s McCormick Observatory. Reservations are required. The College’s Department of Astronomy and the Friends of McCormick Observatory are sponsoring this event.
Unless otherwise noted, all programs are free. The Kluge-Ruhe Collection gallery is open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Free guided tours are offered each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Call 434-244-0234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
In addition to the grant from Australia Council for the Arts, Bosun’s exhibition and residency is presented in partnership with the following sponsors: Embassy of Australia, Ngalmun Lagau Minaral Art Centre, Australian Art Print Network, Maria T. Kluge, John and Barbara Wilkerson, Wilkerson Family Charitable Lead Trust, U.Va. McIntire Department of Art, the Dance Program of the U.Va. Department of Drama, U.Va. Department of Astronomy and Friends of McCormick Observatory.
In May, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection announced the six Australian artists it will host over the next three years. In addition to Bosun, they are Nici Cumpston, Bronwyn Bancroft, Marshall Bell, Ricardo Idagi and Bianca Beetson.
Each of their four-week residencies will include an exhibition at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection and the opportunity to participate in U.Va.’s academic life through a variety of programs and collaborative projects.
Kluge-Ruhe is the only American museum solely dedicated to the exhibition and study of Australian Aboriginal Art.