Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Katherine Paschal
IU Art Museum

Last modified: Monday, February 11, 2013

Australian artist's first U.S. traveling exhibition makes final stop at IU Art Museum

Feb. 11, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Activist. Painter. Provocateur. Filmmaker.

We Were Here First

Richard Bell, Wewereherefirst, 2007. Acrylic on canvas, 2 parts, 96 x 144 in. Private collection, Brisbane. Photo courtesy American Federation of Arts

Print-Quality Photo

These words characterize Australian artist Richard Bell, whose one-person exhibition will make the final stop in its U.S. tour at the IU Art Museum. "Richard Bell: Uz vs. Them" will be on display in the Special Exhibitions Gallery from March 2 through May 5.

Bell's first U.S. exhibition was in 2009 in New York, but "Uz vs. Them" is the first traveling show featuring his work exclusively. The exhibition has been traveling since 2011, opening at Tufts University Art Gallery and then moving to the University of Kentucky Art Museum and the Victoria H. Myhren Gallery at the University of Denver.

Now living in Brisbane, Bell was born in 1953 in Charleville, a small town in southwestern Queensland. During the 1970s he became active in the Aboriginal civil rights movement, and in the late 1980s he began making art as an outgrowth of that activism. Self-taught, he had his first solo exhibition in 1989. In 1993, he won the Gold Coast (Queensland) Arts Centre's National Aboriginal Arts Award. In 2003, Bell's painting "Scientia E Metaphysica" ("Bell's Theorem") received the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, one of Australia's most prestigious awards in the field.

Bell works primarily as a painter, but he also creates photographs, films and installation pieces; all of these mediums are represented in the exhibition. While his painting style has affinities with Aboriginal desert painting, the use of letters and texts, popular imagery, irony, appropriation and direct references to the work of Pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein clearly embed Bell's work in the Western art world mainstream.

Several special events are organized around the exhibition:

  • Diane Pelrine, the Raymond and Laura Wielgus Curator of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas and the IU Art Museum's coordinating curator for the exhibition, will lead a gallery talk at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, in the Special Exhibitions Gallery. The opening reception will follow in the Thomas T. Solley Atrium.
  • Ian McIntosh will speak at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, in the Special Exhibitions Gallery. His talk will examine issues faced by Australian Aboriginal peoples while giving first-hand experiences from growing up in Queensland, Australia. McIntosh is an expert on Australian Aboriginal history, culture director of IUPUI's International Partnerships program and adjunct professor of anthropology at IUPUI.
  • World musician Adam Riviere will perform Australian Aboriginal music featuring the didgeridoo, clapsticks and bullroarer beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14, in the Thomas T. Solley Atrium. A tour of the exhibition will follow.

"Richard Bell: Uz vs. Them" is organized by the American Federation of Arts. The exhibition and related publication are supported by the Queensland Government, Australia, through Trade Queensland's Queensland Indigenous Arts Marketing and Export Agency, which promotes the indigenous arts industry through marketing and export activity throughout Australia and internationally. At the IU Art Museum, the exhibition is made possible by the Arc Fund and the Raymond and Laura Wielgus Fund.

Admission to the exhibition and programs is free. A fully illustrated exhibition catalog will be available for purchase at Angles Café and Gift Shop.