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Indigenous student brightens Curtin with striking design

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Image for Indigenous student brightens Curtin with striking design

Captivating artwork by proud Wongatha woman and Arts Anthropology student Olivia Smith has been transformed into a giant window decal at Curtin University’s Exchange precinct after she won the top prize at an Indigenous art competition.

The striking design depicts a human figure against a blue backdrop, surrounded by white dots, representing the study of humanities and a connection to country through the sky and water.

The 24-year-old artist, who grew up in Kalgoorlie, said her piece called ‘Interconnected’ illustrates how studying humanities enables an understanding of different cultures, people and practices.

“The dots surrounding the human figure are representative of the people within society and showcase the different roles we all have from Elders to students. We all need each other and we can all learn from each other,” Miss Smith said.

“My artwork symbolises the Aboriginal practice of using waterways and stars as guides for exploration and discovery. The colours within the figure itself reflect nature and if you look closely enough there are even little black dots to represent the bugs.

“Winning this award has given me added confidence. I think my art also showcases a different version of what ‘Aboriginal Art’ looks like and that is pretty cool.”

Miss Smith’s artwork has been installed on Curtin’s School of Design and the Built Environment building to create a welcoming space for students and visitors.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne congratulated Miss Smith and said she was impressed by the narrative embedded in her artwork.

“When I see Olivia’s art and storytelling, I think about the enduring connection she’s drawn between contemporary society and the rich heritage of the world’s oldest continuous living culture,” Professor Hayne said.

“Her submission caught the judges’ attention for its depth and beauty and it’s wonderful to see her impactful work adorn Curtin’s building 418 in our popular Exchange precinct.”

Curtin Dean of Indigenous Futures Associate Professor Mandy Downing said Miss Smith’s journey to academic excellence is as inspiring as her artistic prowess.

“Olivia’s path to Curtin University began with her graduation from the Indigenous Tertiary Enabling Course and she is now a first year Anthropology student, demonstrating her unwavering dedication to pursuing higher education and embracing her cultural heritage,” Associate Professor Downing said.

“We are thrilled by the exceptional talent of all of the artists involved in the competition, reminding us of the important role art plays in showcasing cultural richness and fostering understanding.”

Creative Arts student Vivienne Langham, who collaborated with Indigenous artist Sammy Wyborn, took second prize for her piece titled ‘Every day and every night, we will sit together in truth’, which illustrates the pair seated together sharing their truths. Architectural Science student Vanessa Burn claimed third place for her artwork ‘Murnong’, which features plant-like designs that pay tribute to her heritage and the communities she grew up in.

The Faculty of Humanities Indigenous Futures Artwork Competition was open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and non-Indigenous students collaborating with Indigenous partners in the search for new artwork to create a more culturally welcoming environment within the University.

In addition to Olivia Smith’s winning piece, artwork from the competition will be showcased at Curtin University’s Building 418 during National Reconciliation Week from 27 May to 3 June demonstrating the University’s commitment to ‘reconciliAction’ in line with the theme of the week ‘Now more than ever’.

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