Ochre is a family of mineral pigments made from iron oxides and hydroxides, commonly known as rust. Humans have collected ochre for at least 500,000 years, and it underpins the earliest evidence of symbolic culture, and later, figurative art, in the archaeological record. Pigment of Imagination
explores the dual identity of ochre––it is both mineral and pigment––and the ways individuals and communities have used it to express complex relationships with the environment. To paint with ochre is to paint with the earth itself; it is a means of embodiment, of putting the land beneath one's feet and into the storyscapes of cultural knowledge. The works exhibited here––from Africa, Australia, Oceania, and North and South America––reflect the global distribution of ochre and its universal appeal as both material and metaphor. To view these works is to visit the landscape of their creation, to bear witness to place as much as meaning.
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