Gloria Tamerr Petyarre

Australian Aboriginal, Anmatyerr people, Utopia, Central Desert, Northern Territory, 1938 - 2021

Every single solitary leaf counts in this swirling maze. The artist conveys her high regard for the botanical value of her country with a separate stroke of paint for each leaf. The painting recalls a place where Petyarre sat for hours under particular trees with women as they prepared seeds for small cakes and taught one other about the medicinal properties of plants in their home named Utopia.

As 2020 begins, the Australian continent is ablaze with fires. Petyarre grew up in a seed economy on lands that had been cared for by her ancestors for over 30,000 years. During the last century, vast changes to land management have contributed to a dire situation, causing concern and questions about how we all care for our planet.
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
70 7/8 x 157 1/2 in. (180 x 400cm)
Gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, in honor of Virginia and Bagley Wright, and in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum
Provenance: [Utopia Art, Sydney, Australia]; Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, Seattle, Washington, 2002
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryWashington, D.C., National Museum of Women in the Arts, Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters, June 30- September 24, 2006 (Hanover, New Hampshire, Hood Museum of Art, Oct. 7 - Dec. 10, 2006).

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection, May 31 - Sept. 12, 2012 (Nashville, Tenessee, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, June 23 - Oct. 15, 2017; Madison, Wisconsin, Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, Jan. 26 - Apr. 22, 2018; Austin, Texas, Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, June 3 - Sept. 9, 2018; Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, Audain Art Museum, Oct. 5, 2018 - Jan. 28, 2019). Text by Pamela McClusky, Wally Caruana, Lisa Graziose Corrin, and Stephen Gilchrist. Cat. no. 31, pp. 114-115, reproduced.
Published ReferencesDreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, 2006, catalogue no. 27

Ishikawa, Chiyo, ed., A Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2007, reproduced on endpapers.

Farr, Sheila. Richard C., Elliott: Primal Opp, Salem, Oregon: Hallie Form Museum of Art, Willamette University; Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 2014; reproduced fig. 70, p. 84.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM

Supported by Microsoft logo