Conceived in Brisbane in 2003, proppaNOW is one of Australia’s leading Aboriginal Artist Collectives, challenging the politics of Aboriginal art and culture. The collective is focused on generating Contemporary Art that is thought provoking, subversive and re-thinking what it means to be a ‘Contemporary artist’. proppaNOW takes working-class frameworks, which surrounded most of the artists growing up, of impoverished and oppressed peoples, and drives it into the art world. This has spurred the composition of contemporary liberation art, talking about the daily struggles of coming against the forces of modernism and capitalism. The focus and support for each other has also allowed the collective to foster the projection of our individual careers. Members include Vernon Ah Kee, Tony Albert, Richard Bell, Megan Cope, Jennifer Herd, Gordon Hookey, the late Laurie Nilsen—all established and well respected artists in their own right. The collective as of 2023 has invited and received acceptance from three new members—Shannon Brett, Lily Eather, and Warraba Weatherall.
Introduced and moderated by Sophie Rose, CCS Bard Graduate Student.
proppaNOW members in attendance:
Vernon Ah Kee was born in 1967 in Innisfail, North Queensland. He lives and works in Brisbane. He belongs to the Kuku Yalandji, Waanji, Yidinji and Gugu Yimithirr people. Ah Kee’s contextual text pieces, videos, photographs and drawings form a critique of Australian popular culture from the perspective of the Aboriginal experience of contemporary life. He particularly explores the dichotomy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal societies and cultures.
Richard Bell was born in 1953, Charleville, Queensland. He lives and works between Brisbane and overseas. Bell is a member of the Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang communities. He works across a variety of media including painting, installation, performance and video. He grew out of a generation of Aboriginal activists and has remained committed to the politics of Aboriginal emancipation and self-determination. One of Australia’s most significant artists, Bell’s work explores the complex artistic and political problems of Western, colonial and Indigenous art production.
Megan Cope was born in 1982 in Brisbane. She lives and works in Brisbane. Cope is a Quandamooka artist (North Stradbroke Island in South East Queensland). Her site-specific sculptural installations, public art and paintings investigate issues relating to colonial histories, culture, the environment and mapping practices. Cope’s work often resists prescribed notions of Aboriginality, and examines the psychogeographies that challenge the grand narrative of “Australia” along with our sense of time and ownership in a settler colonial state. These explorations result in various material outcomes.
Lily Eather was born in 1996 in Brisbane. She is a Mandandanji woman who lives and works in Brisbane, and the daughter of the late Laurie Nilsen, an early member of proppaNOW and renowned multidisciplinary artist in his own right. Eather has a deep commitment to upkeep his legacy through her current studies at The University of Queensland majoring in Art History. Her career as a Theatre Nurse for the past seven years has allowed her to follow her passion for the arts on the side, and aspires to become a curator and writer. She is passionate about Indigenous and Australian art, and recognises the need for Indigenous curatorship locally and globally.
Warraba Weatherall is a Kamilaroi visual artist, Lecturer at Griffith University and PhD candidate, who is currently based in Brisbane. Weatherall’s artistic practice has a specific interest in archival repositories and structures, and the life of cultural materials and knowledges within these environments. He is also a lecturer for the Contemporary Australian Indigenous Arts (CAIA) degree at Griffith University’s, Queensland College of Art. Weatherall is passionate about shifting cultural norms within the Australian visual arts sector and contributes to the sector through artistic practice, education and curation.
CCS Bard Speaker Series Each semester CCS Bard hosts a program of lectures by leading artists, curators, art historians, and critics, situating the school and museum’s concerns within the larger context of contemporary art production and discourse. Speakers are selected primarily by second-year graduate students and also by faculty and staff. All lectures are free and open, and are documented through audio recordings that reside in the CCS Bard Library & Archives and online here.
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