Marking the Infinite
June 7, 2018
The Phillips Collection
Mesmerized, circles spinning cross hatched
Like a shorn tree, the notches of age spinning
Out chronicling time as it ticks, ticks, ticks
Or a frayed blanket, thread stretching out as you pull
Pull it gently apart.
But there is beauty in the round
Gentleness in what is found
Staring, gazing, feeling
From the exhibition website.
In the late 1980s women artists took the reins of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement in Australia. After years of working in the shadows, assisting their fathers and husbands, they burst onto the scene, giving it a new vitality and dynamism. Women artists redrew the boundaries of Aboriginal art, and continue to be among its most daring innovators. Though cultural activity has always been central to the secular and sacred lives of women, art making in recent decades has offered a key means for women to also maintain their social and economic independence.
In a lot of ways Marking the Infinite is the perfect illustration of how art can serve to connect the past and present. Each of the pieces in the room asked the audience to look twice — and in the case of Sun Mat you found yourself drawn in, almost swimming in the depths of the spiraled rounds. I really appreciated the exhibition’s focus on female artists who were leveraging their work as entrepreneurs but also as cultivators of traditional practices that were in the process of being lost. While the exhibition is now closed, I am really glad I had the opportunity to experience the work for myself.