3//THREE//AUSTRALIA - First Australians

Part of this post is taken from a June 16 letter.


First Australians is an organization in Brisbane that provides consulting and resources for Aboriginal people that are wanting to start their own businesses or be further represented in the community. The Aboriginal people groups of Australia are a group that face many of the same difficulties that Native Americans encounter as displaced people groups. The thing you may find surprising, however, is that aboriginal people here in Australia did not gain citizenship until 1972. For about 100 years prior to that, the Australian government was trying to assimilate this race into the Caucasian one, literally diluting the aboriginal coloring and features out of their race. It only takes four generations to do this as the aboriginal coloring and features are extremely recessive.

Monique is a woman that works with First Australians. She is a white woman in appearance. Bridget is also an aboriginal woman, however, she is quite dark. Both of these women come from backgrounds where only one parent is aboriginal. It is a startling reality that there are almost no full-race aboriginals anymore due to this governmental process that has occurred in Australia's history. (I want to encourage you to read any information you might find by google searching "The Stolen Generation". Also, "Rabbit Proof Fence" is an excellent movie to get a better picture of what this policy did to a people)

The meeting with Bridget and Monique was arranged because our team was interested learning more about the art of the aboriginal people. The organization works closely with aboriginal artists and so they agreed to meet with a team of American's interested in cultural arts. The team today spent about an hour and a half with these two women learning about specific elements relating to art of the aboriginal cultures but we dove deeply into the history and struggles of this people group. The conversation and time spent were exceedingly meaningful and insightful.

Leanne joined us. As she is very intent on the realities of a social gospel, we spoke about racial reconciliation and how to further pursue that. Bridget invited Leanne into thinking about this together which was very cool for Leanne. Today's meeting with these two women was extremely significant to starting a relationship with them. But we just went to talk to them about art, right?

Today was just an example to us of what the arts in a context could potentially be. As a team, we were pretty excited we were able to be a part of connecting these two groups together in a very safe and non-threatening way. We were also just really overwhelmed with the gift of speaking with these two women who gave us some thoroughly insightful pieces of information with which to understand the culture we're in and the place that produced these works of art which are the stories of people that Jesus loves.

After that meeting, Bridget invited us to come to an opening the next evening of 5 aboriginal men who had worked with large canvases to create native images valuable to each "tribe" represented. Great exhibit.

Also, we found out one of the women who had been in my bookmaking class that week was actually quite a well known aboriginal artist and was featured in the catalogue of National Aboriginal artists Bridget had at the organization.

Bridget has a great vision for a traveling exhibit that would combine pieces both from the Aboriginal people group and the African American people group that focus on responses to their respective oppression both currently and historically. It would be a very powerful exhibit.

Derek (one of the team mates) works at a the new fine art facility here and has begun looking into the possibility of bringing that here to start it's tour. There are numerous galleries in America that would be thrilled about hosting such an exhibit. We loved the vision and as she was explaining it, I started crying. It really moved me. We'd love to see this happen. And I'd love to work with Bridget.

Our time with Bridget and Monique was really good from a creative standpoint. But it was extremely valuable from a personal one as well.

pictures from the exhibit.


David and Katy said...

Jenn! What in the world! My lost friend! So good to read up on your life...check us out: www.davidandkaty.blogspot.com


Jenn Swift said...

DAVE!!!! Hey! Well, how the heck are ya!? Why don't I go to your blog and find out!