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Visualizing Australia: Art, Land, Identity

The geographical variation of the Western Australia will form the backdrop to the course, and students will examine how the regions’ various communities – from its First Nations owners to contemporary immigrants – have encountered, related to, and depicted their relations to place.

“Visualizing Australia: Art, Land, Identity”
The Holly and Henry Wendt, Class of 1955, Global Seminar
Institute of Advanced Research, University of Western Australia, Perth

Anna Arabindan Kesson, assistant professor of art and archaeology and African American studies

The course will focus on the representation of human and non-human relationships to the land as a site of meaning making, identity formation, and cultural expression in Australia. The course will be based in Western Australia, Australia’s largest state. The geographical variation of the state will form the backdrop to the course, and students will examine how the regions’ various communities – from its First Nations owners to contemporary immigrants – have encountered, related to, and depicted their relations to place. In this way students will also be able to delve deeply into the multiple layers embedded in art-making and draw out the different critical frameworks that have shaped the production of Australian art. Representations of the landscape form the core theme of this course, and each week, students will examine these sources using different thematic approaches, focusing on different kinds of landscapes. The Seminar will incorporate artistic practices and promote dialogue between students.

Students will have the unique opportunity to learn about and work with artworks and objects held in a variety of collections throughout Western Australia. They will visit artists’ studios and workshops around the state and travel to important geographical sites to learn about the historical and contested meanings of place for Australian artists. The seminar will be based at the University of Western Australia where most of the teaching will take place. Here students will be able to visit several galleries and collections and will work closely with curators at the Berndt Museum, the Lawrence Wilson Gallery, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, and the Kerry Stokes Collection. 

This course fulfills the Literature and Arts (LA) general education requirement.