Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Art, Anthropology Blend at Sama Ligonier Valley

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Art, Anthropology Blend at Sama Ligonier Valley

Article excerpt

The 32 abstract paintings on display in Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley look contemporary, but the stories they tell are drawn from the 40,000-year history of the indigenous people who made them.

"Ritual Abstractions: Australian Aboriginal Paintings From the Collection of Anne M. MacDougall" are enduring artworks with roots in centuries of oral presentations that were enhanced by ephemeral earth drawings.

In 1971, acrylic paint was introduced to Australian indigenous communities and imagery that was once secretive and sacred began to seep out to a world of collectors and scholars.

Patterns that run through the paintings are representative of songlines believed to have been laid down by sacred beings during "creation time." The songlines reference "tracks of the ancestors as they traveled about the earth to create the world," said Ms. MacDougall, a Ligonier resident who once lived in Australia.

In 1988, she and her husband were in the midst of a 17-year circumnavigation of the globe in a ketch sailboat when they landed in Australia. They stayed for five years, during which she visited indigenous regions with a documentary film crew.

She began traveling shows of the art in the United States including twice in Pittsburgh, at the former Bird-in-the-Hand gallery in Sewickley and Mendelson Gallery in Shadyside. Artist Malcolm Maloney Jagamarra, considered one of the most talented Aboriginal artists working in Australia, accompanied her at Mendelson, and his work is included in the SAMA exhibition. …

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