Vocabulary List

Crossing Cultures: Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art

This glossary provides definitions to words used in the pre-visit material and also that are likely to come up during a visit to the exhibition.

Aboriginal: Those people who were the first or earliest known of their kind to live in a region. The Aboriginal Australian people were the first people to live on the continent of Australia beginning more than 50,000 years ago. Europeans, who came to Australia only about 400 years ago, are not aboriginal people.

Indigenous: A synonym for aboriginal. The two words may be used interchangeably.

Abstract art: A painting or sculpture composed from colors, shapes, and lines that does not show a person, place, or thing recognizable from the natural world.

Ancestors: People from whom one is descended through birth.

Ceremony: A formal event performed on a special occasion.

Composition: How colors, shapes, and lines are put together or arranged in a work of art.

Culture: The beliefs, social practices and characteristics of a group of people.

Symbol: Something that stands for something else. In Australian Aboriginal art, sometimes a shape, like a circle, might be a symbol for something else like a watering hole, for example.