Textiles at Fowler

Aboriginal Screen Printed Textiles at Fowler Museum/UCLA

  • By Cynthia Lum

The exhibition of Aboriginal Screen-Printed Textiles from Australia’s Top End at the Fowler Museum, takes viewers on a journey to Australia’s Northern Territories where visitors are invited to explore more than seventy distinctive, screen-printed textiles made by contemporary artists at five Aboriginal owned art centers. 

These textiles have become a vibrant medium for Indigenous artists to tell their stories, convey knowledge of the land and beliefs of the Aboriginal people. Today these fabrics both serve the needs of their communities and circulate as prized collectibles, interior furnishings, and fashion apparel.

The installation, organized around the individual art centers, reveals the creativity and innovation of Aboriginal artists and their sources of inspiration. Accompanying videos offer glimpses of the process of screen-printing textiles and the ways artists have translated ancient painting techniques into new media. They also introduce local environments, flood plains, waterholes, rivers, and seas that shelter the local flora and fauna seen on fabrics in bold colors and striking patterns. 

These screen-printed textiles enable Indigenous artists to share their cultures and identities, while providing them with a sustainable livelihood. The textiles also demonstrate the resilience of Aboriginal Australian culture and the perseverance of Indigenous artists as they create extraordinary textile art in often harsh and remote environments using the simplest of facilities. The exhibition pays tribute to the resilience and beauty of Aboriginal Australia and reminds us of the enduring connections between peoples and their lands.

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