With Her Hands: Women’s Fiber Art from Gapuwiyak to open at Kluge-Ruhe July 18

July 3, 2019

On July 18 from 5 – 9 pm, The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA will open its new exhibition With Her Hands: Women’s Fiber Art from Gapuwiyak: The Louise Hamby Gift, curated by six undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds. The exhibition features baskets, dilly bags, mats, sculptures and necklaces selected from a gift of 100 fiber artworks recently donated to Kluge-Ruhe by anthropologist Dr. Louise Hamby.  The artworks in this significant gift—the first in an ongoing series of donations—address topics of tradition and innovation, gender roles, generational change, and relationships to place, and the Hamby gift will establish Kluge-Ruhe as a world center for the study of contemporary Aboriginal women’s fiber art.

This summer, Kluge-Ruhe is training the next generation of curators while addressing the pressing lack of diversity in American museums, as part of UVA’s broader Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative. Six undergraduate students—Barriane Franks (Xavier University of Louisiana),  Antionette Griffin (Auburn University at Montgomery), Hannah Jeffries (University of North Carolina at Pembroke), Helen Martinez (University of Houston-Downtown), Diana Proenza (New College of Florida), and Victoria Morales Rodriguez (University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez)—have traveled to Charlottesville for the Mellon Summer Curatorial Research Program, which is designed to train curators from backgrounds underrepresented in the museum professions. Under the supervision of Kluge-Ruhe Curator Henry F. Skerritt and two UVA graduate students in the English department, Eva Latterner and Cassie Davies, the curatorial students are learning every aspect of designing an exhibition, from writing wall labels down to choosing wall colors. 

Given that modern and contemporary art exhibitions disproportionately represent male artists (the Guerrilla Girls counted in 2012 that less than 4% of the artists in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s modern art sections were women), and that a 2015 study showed 73% of museum leadership positions are occupied by men, this exhibition is remarkably unique. With six women of color curating works by 25 Indigenous women artists, With Her Hands: Women’s Fiber Art from Gapuwiyak: The Louise Hamby Gift challenges issues of gender and representation in the museum profession.

“I view this exhibition as a chance to recognize and showcase the often-unheard voices of gifted female artists,” says curator Diana Proenza of New College of Florida.

Louise Hamby and fiber artist Lucy Malirrimurruwuy Wanapuyngu are visiting Charlottesville to advise the project and to offer public workshops in dyeing and weaving

With Her Hands: Women’s Fiber Art from Gapuwiyak: The Louise Hamby Gift, and the accompanying catalogue, will be launched on Thursday, July 18 at Kluge-Ruhe’s Night at the Museum event from 5-9pm. The curatorial students will present short “flat-chat” tours of key works in the exhibition. The event will also feature live original music by The Sally Rose Band, food trucks, and local beer and wine. Admission is $5 for non-members and free for museum members. The event is family-friendly and no reservations are needed. For more information about the museum and this event, visit or call 434-244-0234.

Adriana Greci Green serves on Advisory Board for Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists

July 3, 2019

Adriana Greci Green, Curator of Indigenous Arts of the Americas at UVa’s Fralin Museum of Art, served on the Native Exhibition Advisory Board for Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists, a groundbreaking major exhibition that opened June 2, 2019, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Exhibition curators Jill Ahlberg Yohe and Teri Greeves gathered the all-female board of 21 native artists and native and non-native scholars of indigenous arts from across North America to share knowledge and ideas through a collaborative and communal creative process, and to involve a wide range of indigenous voices. The Advisory Board provided input through all stages of the curatorial process.

From the Minneapolis Institute of Art web site: 

Women have long been the creative force behind Native art. Presented in close cooperation with top Native women artists and scholars, this first major exhibition of artwork by Native women honors the achievements of over 115 artists from the United States and Canada spanning over 1,000 years. Their triumphs—from pottery, textiles, and painting, to photographic portraits, to a gleaming El Camino—show astonishing innovation and technical mastery. Read more.

The exhibition has received great acclaim. Read a review in the New York Times here.

Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists will travel to the Frist Museum in Nashville September 27, 2019 – January 12, 2020, to the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. February 21, 2020 – May 17, 2020,  and to Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa June 28, 2020 – September 20, 2020.


Weaving stories of family and hope

January 30, 2019

Artist Lily Hope shares the power of story and tradition through Native American weaving

By Caitlin Woodford | 01/30/2019

Storytelling is an aspect of culture that is tied into nearly every form of contemporary media. Through books, movies, TV shows and everything in between, a vast array of stories are constantly being fed into the world. However, the power of stories is not limited to merely these mediums. In a studio in Juneau, Alaska, a different method of storytelling is taking place — one that has been passed down for generations through immensely talented indigenous artists. Read more.


Voices coming through: The Fralin's 'Reflections' connects artists across centuries

November 7, 2018

Erin O'Hare, Cville Weekly. With an open palm, Teri Greeves gestures to a handful of small, intricately beaded Kiowa Indian cradleboards lined up inside a glass display case.

Kiowa Indians are known for their abstract beadwork motifs, she tells the small crowd that’s gathered to hear her speak at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia. And while these cradleboards were made in the 19th century, likely for dolls, they’re not unlike the one that swaddled Greeves, a member of the Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, when she was a newborn on Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation in the 1970s. 

“I came home in a fully beaded cradleboard. From the moment I was born, I was encased in glass beads,” she says. Her Italian father made the wooden spines to anchor and support the swaddling sack, and he, together with Greeves’ Kiowa and Comanche mother, designed the beadwork. A Shoshone Indian woman, a mother figure to Greeves’ mother, beaded the design to the sack. It likely required hundreds of hours of work, says Greeves, and it makes her feel extraordinarily loved. Continue reading...



How UVA has Become a Global Center for Indigenous Art

February 20, 2018

The Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, and the "Oceans of Exchange" symposium were recently featured in UVA Today. Find out "How UVA Has Become a Global Center for Indigenous Art." 

Pamunkey Frontlet

17th Century Frontlet Repatriated to Pamunkey Tribe

January 2, 2018

By Jack Jacobs, Tidewater Review

A gift given in the name of peace hundreds of years ago has found its way back home.

Preservation Virginia repatriated a 17th-century frontlet back to the Pamunkey Tribe, which was originally gifted by King Charles II of England to Pamunkey Queen Cockacoeske, in a ceremony at the preservation group’s Richmond office.

Continue reading here:


Monumental Meanings Symposium addresses local statues

November 21, 2017

CBS 19 News

"The University of Virginia hosted a symposium Tuesday night (November 14, 2017) to discuss the portrayal of indigenous people in Charlottesville statues.

Monumental Meanings: Indigenous Perspectives on Monuments and Memorials in Charlottesville and Beyond brought scholars and indigenous people together to discuss the ways native peoples are represented in statues."

Read the full article and watch the accompanying video here:


Shelly Niro's "Indian Summer" at You Me Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario

Shelly Niro's "Indian Summer" at You Me Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario

November 9, 2017

Shelley Niro: Indian Summer will be on view at You Me Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario from November 10-December 3, 2017. The exhibition features several new works and large paintings from her touring exhibition "Indian Summer." Shelley Niro recently visited the University of Virginia as a Fellow of the Mellon Indigenous Arts Initaitive. She is the winner of the 2017 ScotiaBank Photography Award and Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. You Me Gallery is open Wednesday-Sunday from 12-5pm and is located at 330 James St. North, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 


Pocahontas Reframed: Native American Storytellers Film Festival

November 6, 2017

The Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival aims to foster greater awareness of and exposure to indigenous languages, cultures and societies by featuring film and live performances celebrating Native American stories and storytellers.

Read the full article by Lindley Estes here:

Pocahontas Reframed: Native American Storytellers Film Festival will be held on November 17-19 at The Byrd Theater. Admission is free, but seating is limited. To register and see the full event schedule, visit


Australian Embassy Celebrates Aboriginal Artists from Remote Island of Milingimbi

October 18, 2017

Henry Skerritt, Curator of Indigenous Arts of Australia at Kluge-Ruhe, was quoted in The Washington Diplomat in an article about the current exhibition of Indigenous art at the Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C. The exhibition features works by Raymond Bulambula and his wife*, recent Mellon Indigenous Arts Visiting Fellows at UVA. 

Read the Washington Diplomat article: Australian Embassy Celebrates Aboriginal Artists from Remote Island of Milingimbi

Check out the exhibition artwork here:

*Note: Raymond Bulambula’s wife passed away several months after these events and she is referred to here as ‘his wife’ in accordance with cultural protocols that prohibit the name or image of a recently deceased person from being spoken, written or presented.

Indigenous People Day

Charlottesville Celebrates First Indigenous Peoples Day

October 9, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017 is Charlottesville's first Indigenous Peoples Day.

Check out the article below from Charlottesville Tomorrow which features Dr. Karenne Wood (Monacan), director of Virginia Indian Programs at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities:

Dr. Wood is also featured in this video story from Newsplex:

Shelley Niro

Shelley Niro: The way of the subtle warrior

September 12, 2017

Learn about the work and career of Mohawk artist and filmmaker Shelley Niro in "Shelley Niro: The way of the subtle warrior," an article by Murray Whyte for the Toronto Star. Niro will be in residence at the University of Virginia from September 20-October 5 as a Visiting Fellow of the Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative.

Full article:

Ghost Nets

Australia: Defending the Ocean

August 14, 2017

On Friday, August 25, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection will hold a lecture and reception to open an exhibition titled Australia: Defending the Ocean at the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library.

The exhibition, which has been installed in the Library’s reading room, highlights the ecological disaster created by abandoned and discarded fishing nets off the coast of northeastern Australia. These “ghost nets” are made of strong plastic designed to withstand the harsh ocean environment. A by-product of the commercial fishing industry, ghost nets drift on the ocean currents, trapping a rich array of marine life including such endangered species as sea turtles, sharks, rays and sawfish among many others. Eventually they drift to the ocean floor, suffocating marine animals and coral reefs alike and creating long term damage to the marine environment. It is estimated that over 640,000 tons of fishing equipment is left in the oceans each year.

Indigenous Australians were among the first to notice the devastating effects of ghost nets. For thousands of years, Indigenous people have retained and passed down extensive knowledge of marine life, a result of their longstanding stewardship of the environment in which they live. In reaction to the increasing threat posed by debris in the ocean, Aboriginal artists from Pormpuraaw, Queensland, have begun harvesting ghost nets and turning them into delightful sculptures of marine life. Their artworks raise awareness about the environmental threat of litter in the ocean.

Also included in the exhibition are three prints and an aluminum sculpture of a stingray by Brian Robinson (Maluyliga, Wuthathi, Malaysia Dayak). The sculpture, Ocean Guardian, represents the creation story of the Great Barrier Reef and is covered in mineral, the distinctive graphic patterns of Torres Strait art. In his linocut prints, Robinson draws on his Torres Strait Islander heritage and traditional art historical and pop culture imagery.

On Friday, August 25 at 4 pm professor Stephen Macko from UVA’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Kluge-Ruhe director Margo Smith will discuss the exhibition from two different perspectives. The lecture will be followed by a Final Fridays reception with refreshments concluding at 7 pm. Brown Library is located in Clark Hall, 291 McCormick Road, on UVA’s central Grounds.

Australia: Defending the Ocean was first exhibited at the United Nations during The Ocean Conference in June 2017. Kluge-Ruhe wishes to thank the artists of Pormpuraaw Art and Culture Center and the exhibition organizers Stéphane Jacob of Arts d’Australie, Paris, Suzanne O’Connell of Suzanne O’Connell Gallery, Brisbane, and John Stafford of Onespace Gallery, Brisbane, who represents Brian Robinson.

Karenne Wood

WINA Interview with Karenne Wood

July 17, 2017

On Thursday, July 13, Karenne Wood, director of the Virginia Indian Program at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, spoke with local Charlottesville radio station WINA about the Virginia Indian Tribute and her work at VFH. She also mentioned upcoming visiting fellows Shelley Niro and ElizaBeth Hill, who will be in residence at the University of Virginia this Fall. Use the link below to hear the full interview.

Summer Curatorial Students

Student Curators Bring Diverse Perspectives to Aboriginal Art in New Exhibition

July 3, 2017

On July 20th from 5 – 9 pm, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA will open a major new exhibition curated by five undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds that are under-represented in the curatorial profession. The students’ exhibition, titled Songs of a Secret Country, features twenty-three artworks newly donated to Kluge-Ruhe by Stephen and Agatha Luczo.

This summer, Kluge-Ruhe is training the next generation of curators while addressing the pressing lack of diversity in American museums, as part of UVA’s broader Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative. Five undergraduate students—India Ferguson, Imani Williford, Rosalba Ponce, Jake Martin, and Caitlin Keeve—have traveled to Charlottesville from their homes in California, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Florida to learn every aspect of designing an exhibition, from writing wall labels down to choosing wall colors.

India Ferguson is a rising senior from Florida International University who aims to attend a graduate program in curatorial studies. “I’m excited to celebrate the work of the Australian Indigenous artists in Charlottesville. It has been a great experience for our student curatorial group to create an exhibition that challenges us to immerse ourselves in different belief systems while reflecting upon our own identities.”

Songs of a Secret Country is the first display of a major new gift of twenty-three artworks to the Kluge-Ruhe Collection from San Francisco philanthropists Stephen and Agatha Luczo. Stephen is Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Seagate Technology, a data storage solutions company and one of the world’s largest producers of computer hard drives. A model and former dancer, Agatha is the author of the children’s book Carla and Leo’s World of Dance. The Luczos began collecting contemporary Aboriginal art in 2006 and quickly amassed one of the largest collections in the USA. According to Blair Hartzell, curator of the Luczo Family Collection, “It is the brilliant level of engagement—with students, with the local community, and with artists from both America and Australia, that makes the Kluge-Ruhe the ideal home for this gift.” 

The donation features abstract, large-scale contemporary masterpieces from desert regions not heavily represented in the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. Curator Henry Skerritt explains, “The Stephen and Agatha Luczo Gift shows the continuing innovation and diversity of Aboriginal Australian art. Featuring some of the most important and acclaimed contemporary painters of the last decade—such as Makinti Napanangka and Harry Tjutjuna—it allows us to show the living nature of Aboriginal art and culture as it moves into the 21st century.” Director Margo Smith adds, “Kluge-Ruhe and the University of Virginia are tremendously grateful to the Luczos for the opportunity to use this major donation of artworks to advance our Mellon initiatives. Through this program Kluge-Ruhe is becoming the preeminent center for the study of Indigenous Australian art in the United States.”

Songs of a Secret Country: The Stephen and Agatha Luczo Gift and the accompanying catalogue will be launched on Thursday, July 20 at Kluge-Ruhe’s Night at the Museum event, with each student presenting a short “flat-chat” tour of key works in the exhibition. This event will also feature live original music by local band Adar, food trucks, beer from Blue Mountain Brewery and wine from Glass House Winery. Admission is $5 for non-members and free for museum members. It is family-friendly and no reservations are needed. For more information about the museum and this event, visit or call 434-244-0234.

Mantle Capitol Square

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission Monument

June 21, 2017

The Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission and the Virginia Capitol Foundation will host the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Virginia Indian Tribute. This monument, entitled Mantle, recognizes the lasting legacy and significance of American Indians in the Commonwealth.

The featured speaker at the groundbreaking is Billy Mills, member of the Oglala Lakota (Souix) tribe and the Olympic gold medal winner of the 10,000 meter run in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The Groundbreaking Ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 24 in Capitol Square, located at 1000 Bank Street in Richmond, VA.

The public is invited to join in the groundbreaking ceremony. To RSVP or for more information please call 804-308-2583 or email info@monumentalconsultingllc.comRain or shine.

To learn more about the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission and "Mantle," visit the commission's website:


Shelley Niro

Shelley Niro Wins $50K Scotiabank Photography Award

May 15, 2017

Indigenous artist Shelley Niro has won the seventh annual Scotiabank Photography Award. This prestigious award recognizes a Canadian photographer who has made an outstanding contribution to contemporary art and photography. In addition to the $50,000 cash prize, the award includes a solo exhibition at the 2018 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival and a book of the artists work published by Steidl of Germany. 

Shelley Niro will also be visiting the University of Virginia in Fall 2017 as a Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative artist-in-residence.


Pocahontas and After

Karenne Wood Delivers Keynote at Pocahontas Conference in London

April 18, 2017

On Friday March 17, 2017 Karenne Wood, director of Virginia Indian programs at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, delivered a keynote lecture at a conference in London marking the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas.

The conference, Pocahontas and after: historical culture and transatlantic encounters, 1617-2017, was organized by the Institute for Historical Research at the University of London and was supported by the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, The British Library, and The University of Warwick.

Her lecture, Prisoners of History: Pocahontas and American Indian Women in Cultural Context, explores two very different stories of Native American women, Pocahontas and Mary Jemison. Continue reading.


UVA Alumna Joins African Art Conservation Team at VMFA

April 11, 2017

Sydney Collins, a UVA alumna and former intern at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, has joined the staff at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as the Mellon Conservation Photographer/Technician. In this role, she is part of the team working on the Conservation Initiative in African Art. This Conservation Initiative is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and aims to support in-depth technical examination, conservation, and art historical studies of the museum's African art collection.


M Martinez

New Ground: The Southwest of Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin

March 21, 2017

National Museum of Women in the Arts | Washington, D.C. | February 17–May 14, 2017

New Ground counters dominant 19th- and 20th-century narratives, which typically cast the American West as a masculine place of staged romance or rugged conquest. Through the works of potter Maria Martinez (ca. 1887–1980) and photographer Laura Gilpin (1891–1979), this exhibition illuminates the midcentury Southwest as a nuanced and dynamic environment in which these two women created art that embodied a distinctively modern aesthetic. Continue reading...


Bigelow Receives Fellowships

March 21, 2017

Allison Bigelow, Assistant Professor of Spanish at UVA, has won two fellowships for her research on how European and indigenous empires responded to the same metallic materials in different ways. The Huntington awarded Bigelow a Barbara Thom fellowship, and the American Council of Learned Societies awarded her an ACLS Fellowship.

Bigelow studies the history of colonial science and technology, primarily vernacular scientific industries like agriculture and mining. These post-doctoral fellowships will support her current book project, Cultural Touchstones: Mining, Refining, and the Languages of Empire in the Early Americas. Cultural Touchstones applies literary methods to texts that fall between history and literature, showing how indigenous and European empires understand the raw materials of scientific inquiry differently. Each chapter focuses on a different metal – gold, silver, copper, and iron – and a discursive question that emerges in the writers’ responses to them: space, translation, form, and genre.

"This new attention to languages reveals when indigenous miners shaped metallurgical technologies in the colonial Americas (Barba 1640) and how their knowledges were translated out of the scientific record in Europe (Montagu 1670, Lange 1676, Hautin de Villars 1730). By tracing these mistranslations, I show how indigenous classifications like “intermediary ores” were replaced by colonial racial categories like “metales mulatos.” In this way, my work shows how the recovery of indigenous natural and technical knowledges can also shed new light on the history of racial ideologies and category-making in the early Americas."

More information about Allison Bigelow's research can be found on her profile page:

Regina Wilson

Aboriginal Australian artists are having a moment in the U.S. These women are at the forefront.

March 6, 2017

An article from featuring Curator of Indigenous Arts of Australia Henry Skerritt:

BY ELIZABETH FLOCK  March 1, 2017 at 4:33 PM EST

Almost exactly a year ago, walking through the Seattle Art Museum with my uncle, I stopped cold in front of a piece of art called “Munurru,” or “Rough,” by Aboriginal Australian artist Galuma Maymuru. My stepfather had recently passed away; it was his birthday week, and we had come to the museum for a distraction. Grief, people have always told me, comes in waves, and I’d found that to be true. The painting, made with natural pigments on eucalyptus bark, was made up of intersecting wavy lines, like ocean currents; it seemed as if each line led into the next. Continue reading...

Photo Credit from Aboriginal Australian artist Regina Wilson. Photograph by Vanessa Bellemore, courtesy Durrmu Arts. Wilson’s artwork is now on display at the Frost Museum in Miami, in the show “Marking the Infinite.”

Fellows Selected to Develop Indigenous Arts Courses

March 1, 2017

The Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative has awarded fellowships to three Arts & Sciences faculty members for the 2017-18 academic year as part of an effort to establish UVA as a research center of excellence for the study of the Indigenous arts. The new Mellon Arts Fellows are:

  • Matthew Burtner, Professor and Chair, McIntire Department of Music
  • S. Max Edelson, Associate Professor of History, Corcoran Department of History

  • Douglas Fordham, Associate Professor of Art History, McIntire Department of Art

Read the full article here:

Mesoamerican Codices

New Summer Course at the Rare Book School

February 15, 2017

The Rare Book School has added a new course, The History & Construction of the Mesoamerican Codex, 600–1550, to be offered 16–21 July at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The course will we taught by John Hessler, Curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology and History of the Early Americas at the Library of Congress. A brief description is below: 

Of the thousands of pre-Columbian books produced, only a handful have survived to the present day, all of which shed a bright light on the history, language, and book production methods and techniques of the Aztecs and the Maya.

This class will introduce the Mesoamerican Codex both as a physical and cultural object. By discussing not only the construction, material make-up, and pigments of the codices, but also by considering broader cultural questions regarding their languages, iconography, and provenance, students can begin to understand how these books functioned within indigenous societies and how they were perceived by Europeans during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Read more here. 


Curatorial Lab

Curatorial Lab @ UVA

February 6, 2017

The Curatorial Lab @ UVA is a new object-based experiential learning initiative at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection. Under the guidance of Mellon Indigenous Arts Curator, Henry Skerritt, students from the art history and anthropology departments have been invited to curate an exhibition from the world-class collections at Kluge-Ruhe. Over the course of the semester, museum visitors will witness the evolution of the exhibition as students deepen their understanding of Indigenous Australian culture while answering the question “Did Aboriginal Artists Invent Contemporary Art?”

We invite you to join us for the launch of this new initiative on February 10, from 5:30-7:30 pm at Kluge-Ruhe, which will culminate on April 22 with a public presentation from the student curators of the exhibition. 

Curatorial Lab @ UVA is a collaboration among the McIntire Department of Art, the Department of Anthropology and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection. 

Curatorial Lab students design the layout for their exhibition at Kluge-Ruhe. Photo by Henry Skerritt.