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Yhonnie Scarce’s Glass Art Illuminates Dark Histories at AGWA

Yhonnie Scarce's Glass Art Illuminates Dark Histories at AGWA

Renowned artist Yhonnie Scarce unveils her largest survey show yet at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, using blown glass to shed light on profound and often unsettling topics. Yhonnie Scarce’s Glass Art Illuminates Dark Histories at AGWA

Yhonnie Scarce’s artistic prowess shines through in her installations of cascading glass clouds, each composed of thousands of individually hand-blown pieces. While initially captivating in their beauty, these glass formations serve as a poignant response to the legacy of nuclear testing in Australia and the enduring impacts of colonization.

Scarce’s monumental glass clouds, including the largest comprised of 2000 glass pieces, take center stage in her expansive survey show at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, debuting as part of the Perth Festival. For the Kokatha and Nukunu artist, the exhibition represents a deeply personal journey spanning two decades of her prolific career.

Hailing from the South Australian town of Woomera, Scarce’s family was directly affected by the nuclear testing conducted by the British and Australian governments in nearby Maralinga between 1952 and 1963. The true extent of the devastation caused by radioactive contamination only came to light in the 1980s, underscoring the profound human toll borne by Indigenous communities.

One of Scarce’s seminal works, “Death Zephyr,” crafted in 2017, utilizes small glass yams to construct a vast suspended form reminiscent of poisonous radioactive clouds. Each glass piece evokes the memory of individuals impacted by the aftermath of nuclear testing, symbolizing lives lost and communities forever altered.

Scarce’s ongoing engagement with her ancestral lands informs much of her artistic practice, with frequent visits to Woomera inspiring her to create powerful works that confront the desecration of country. In “Hollowing Earth,” Scarce employs uranium glass, once used to create luminous green and yellow glass objects, to fashion blown forms of bush bananas. Each piece, savagely cut open, serves as a haunting reminder of the environmental degradation wrought by uranium mining near Woomera.

As Scarce’s evocative exhibition unfolds in Australia’s mining capital, it sparks vital conversations about the intersection of art, industry, and environmental stewardship. Against the backdrop of the Perth Festival, Scarce’s illuminating artworks invite audiences to contemplate the enduring legacies of colonization and nuclear testing, urging us to reckon with the past as we navigate the complexities of the present.

“Yhonnie Scarce: The Light of Day” runs from Friday until May 19 at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, offering a profound exploration of history, memory, and resilience.

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Source: https://nit.com.au/02-02-2024/9601/kokatha-and-nukunu-artists-glass-clouds-bring-dark-truths-into-the-light

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