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Curtin students questioning their identity

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Seventeen Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS) students have questioned their identity and the representation of Indigenous people in society through a photography project that opened recently at the John Curtin Gallery.

The photography exhibition Who Do You Think We Are features work that aims to reflect the identity of the 17 Aboriginal Bridging Course (ABC) students. Students manipulated photographs of themselves digitally adding images and words to help the viewer understand how they feel that their identity is portrayed to the world.

Michelle Webb, Coordinator of the Aboriginal Bridging Course, said the project, which is the first of its kind for CAS, was an incredible achievement for both staff and students.

“The project was conceived as a way of enabling the students to work across the various educational disciplines and most importantly, broaden their exposure to new and unfamiliar aspects of university life,” Ms Webb said.

“The exhibition is a way of empowering our students and creating for them a sense of their own identity and belonging as they become familiar with the campus and all it has to offer.”

Exhibiting student Michaela Bradley said she was surprised at how multicultural her class was.

“I come from both an Aboriginal Australian and New Zealand background, but I was not aware that my classmates came from diverse backgrounds as well,” she said.

“I included dot painting and Maori symbols in my photo to represent my cultural background.

“Working on this project has made me feel proud to be a young black person in Australia.”

Lenny Ansey, another student involved in the project, felt that undertaking this project has allowed him to question himself as an Aboriginal person.

“Taking my photos really made me think about who I am as an Aboriginal person and how I am portrayed in society,” he said.

“I also found that I learnt a lot more from this project than from doing a written assignment as I could really engage in the learning process.”

The exhibiting students are studying the one year Aboriginal Bridging Course (ABC) which is specifically designed to provide Indigenous Australians with a pathway to university. There have been hundreds of students who have graduated from the ABC since the implementation of the course at Curtin in 1976.

The exhibition will run at the John Curtin Gallery at Curtin University of Technology until 30 May. The Gallery is open to the public and entry is free. Opening hours are between 12pm and 5pm Monday to Friday. The Gallery will be open from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday 25 May as part of its Sunday@Curtin events.

Note to COS/Editor: A photo of the students and artwork is available on request.

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