Master of Creative Art - Research
School of the Arts, English, and Media
Hewitt, Peter James, Aboriginal people come in all shapes and sizes: authentic Aboriginal paintings, Master of Creative Art - Research thesis, School of the Arts, English, and Media, University of Wollongong, 2016. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4685
In my artistic practice I have identified as an ‘Aboriginal artist’; a contemporary Aboriginal painter to be more accurate. This categorisation is significant to my painting practice, and it is essentially the motivating concern of my MCA-R inquiry. While the studio research component Dis & Dat will be mostly engaged with independently, in terms of its material and conceptual strengths, this exegesis examines the personal importance of having my paintings engaged with as authentic expressions of my Aboriginality. ‘Urban-based’ Aboriginal art, that broad category of contemporary creative expression with which I mostly identify, has, since its relatively recent inception in the 1970s, consistently challenged mainstream misunderstanding of racial stereotypes of Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal art. It has done this by enabling the evolution of a contemporary visual language, in which diverse individual, family, and/or community knowledge, experiences, and aspirations are all deemed legitimate and authentic expressions of cultural identity — it is expressively authentic.
A particular turning point in my art practice occurred when I was invited to participate in an exhibition titled Authentic in 2010, an exhibition in Western Sydney featuring suburban Aboriginal artists. The curatorial intention of the exhibition was both to celebrate developments in local Indigenous art practices, and to signal to broader Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences that the western suburbs was a region of diverse and vibrant contemporary Indigenous art. The development of my painting practice since Authentic has provided the impetus for the studio-based research behind Dis & Dat; the mixture of desktop research and my personal experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous culture (auto-ethnography) informs this exegesis. I outline a personal perspective that encourages discourse and raises inquiries about accepted Indigenous identity labels, which provides a standpoint not only as an Aboriginal person but also as an urban-based abstract painter. Regardless of the inherent diversity and complexity of the ingredients in this mix, which I critically explore within this exegesis, I claim an authenticity that is true to myself, from a personalised Indigenous standpoint, and consider this essential to understanding my crosscultural arts practice and other diverse forms of Aboriginal art.