My Senior Independent Study is focused on how Australian Aboriginal art becomes reinterpreted in terms of value and meaning, through international trade as a part of the process of acculturation. I am conceptualizing what happens to the art when people outside of the Aborigine community use it to their advantage. Aboriginal art can be seen in many different forms which incorporate designs of deep meaning and value. The designs are part of The Dreaming which describes many stories and traditions of Aboriginal history and religion. More importantly, the various symbols describe creation and the roles of Aboriginal ancestors. Art, therefore, serves as a force in shaping culture. In another important way, art is a voice for Aborigines to make their presence known and to stand up for their citizen rights. Art is used as a political medium to remind the Australian government that Aborigines will not tolerate mistreatment and misrepresentation of their race. Furthermore, art is an outlet for many Aborigines to stay out of trouble and to avoid alcohol, which is a rampant problem among Aborigines. As a result of the lack of the jobs available to Aborigines and unequal hiring practices, alcohol becomes an escape mechanism and thus leads to incidences of domestic violence. Museums and galleries also play a role in how Aboriginal art IS presented to the public. The context of the displays have the ability to either misrepresent or misinterpret Aboriginal art in terms of its goals for Aboriginal people. The passage of Aboriginal art into the international art scene results in its increase in price, although its meaning and value are not always made clear to the Western art world.


Kardulias, P. Nicholas


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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