Skip to main content

Dartmouth Home | Search | Index Dartmouth home page

Search this Site

 FaceBook Icon Twitter Icon Instagram Icon TouTube Icon
Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

Subscribe: RSS

Crossing Cultures

The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art


Michael Riley, Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi, 1960-2004

Untitled (from the series cloud)
Inkjet print on Ilford Galerie paper, ed. 2/5
Promised gift of Will Owen and Harvey Wagner; EL.2011.60.59
© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VISCOPY, Australia

Michael Riley's final body of work before his untimely death was cloud, a meditative dreamscape that interwove images of Aboriginality, Christianity, and pastoralism with memories of the artist's childhood. Created as he battled renal failure, the series seems to bring to mind unknown and otherworldly destinations. A bible, a cow, an eagle feather, and various statues of winged angels are superimposed upon a cloud-streaked sky in a series of oblique references to Aboriginal histories. The only explicitly Aboriginal object in the series is the boomerang. An icon of Aboriginal hunting technology and sophisticated aerodynamics, the boomerang comes in many shapes, sizes, and functions and was traditionally made in most parts of Australia. While it is acknowledged to be an international signifier of Aboriginal identity, it has been popularized, trivialized, and commodified through the Western transformation of culture into caricature.

Last Updated: 8/17/12