UVA Arts, University of Virginia

Vol 10 Summer 19 Library
Arrernte artist Jenni Kemarre Martiniello advises a UVA student in Professor Bill Bennett’s sculpture class as she learns how to flame-work glass canes. (Credit: Tom Cogill)
The Kluge-Ruhe

Jenni Kemarre Martiniello & the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio

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Last Fall, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection partnered with the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Perry Glass Studio to offer an array of programming for UVA students and alumni and the Charlottesville and Norfolk communities. Indigenous Australian glass artist Jenni Kemarre Martiniello visited Charlottesville from September 12 through October 14 as part of Kluge-Ruhe’s prestigious sponsorship by Australia Council for the Arts. Martiniello, a contemporary urban-based Aboriginal (Arrente) glass artist, seeks to honor traditional weavers and their ancient cultural practices by taking common weavings of items including traditional dilly bags, fish and eel traps, fish baskets and more, and working with her hotshop team to reimagine and recreate them in glass. Through this work, Martiniello says, she “seeks to evoke the interplay of light, and form found in these objects, and in so doing, create contemporary glass works which are also objects of cultural as well as artistic significance.” The centerpiece of her visit to UVA was Freshwater Saltwater Weave, an exhibition at the Kluge-Ruhe that featured works in hot blown glass, coldworked glass, and canes inspired by classic Aboriginal woven forms. Also, while at UVA, Martiniello sat in on numerous Art History and Anthropology classes, visited The Fralin Museum of Art, and gave students in Professor Bill Bennett’s beginning and advanced sculpture classes a unique window into her art and her process when she worked with them to create pieces highlighting an object related to a family story. The students created plaster of sand molds, and the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Perry Glass Studio brought their mobile glass hot shop to the sculpture department to pour hot molten glass into the molds, creating a work in glass. Kluge-Ruhe’s collaboration with the studio, a well-known hub for glass artists up and down the East Coast, also included Martiniello traveling there as a resident artist, where she collaborated for three days with their team on new works during the studio’s public hours, as well as gave a lecture about her work. “All around the world, artists like Jenni Kemarre Martiniello are breaking down the barriers of what can and cannot be considered contemporary art,” said Kluge-Ruhe Curator Henry Skerritt. “By bringing together seemingly disparate mediums, subjects, and histories, they show us that the world is bigger, more diverse and more beautiful than such outdated categories can contain. Yet again, it is a thrill to be able to introduce Americans to such a globally significant artist.”

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