SALA Featured Artist - Yhonnie SCARCE
Woomera-born Yhonnie Scarce, a descendant of the Kokatha people from the Lake Eyre region and the Nukunu from around Port Lincoln, majored in glass making at the South Australian School of Art. She uses the unlikely medium of glass to explore the treatment of Aboriginal Australians in both historic and contemporary contexts.
What they wanted is a confronting and solemn work of art. Fifteen handblown glass figures, each hung by a white cord, are installed to form a cross. The hanging figures make visual reference to the recurring tragedy of black deaths in custody, while the cross could be read as both a eulogy to the unnecessary deaths in custody and, perhaps more ominously, to the role of the church in our colonial history.
By placing this contemporary work of art in the company of colonial paintings and sculptures, including those that represent Aboriginal people, both the suffering and the survival of Aboriginal Australians is underscored.
During her honours year in 2004, Scarce researched the impact of the removal and relocation of Aboriginal people from their homelands and the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families, and how these events have been expressed through the work of Aboriginal artists.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours), she tutored in Indigenous Arts, Culture and Design at the University of South Australia. In 2006 she was a finalist in the 23rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, and in the same year she held her first solo exhibition, Forget Me Not, at the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide.
Scarce’s work was included in the Adelaide Festival Centre’s exhibition Indigenous Responses to Colonialism: Another Story in 2007. She was a finalist in the Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award at the Queensland Art Gallery – Gallery of Modern Art in 2007. In 2008 she became the South Australian recipient of the inaugural Qantas Foundation Encouragement of Australian Contemporary Art Award.
In 2010 Scarce completed her Masters of Fine Art (Research) degree at Monash University, Melbourne. Her work has been collected by the Art Gallery of South Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the Flinders University Art Museum, the University of South Australia and private collections in Australia.