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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)


Photo: iocolor, Seattle



Tommy Mitchell

Australian Aboriginal, Ngaanyatjarra people, Warakurna, Southwestern Deserts, Western Australia, born 1943

Greed is being punished in this vivid tornado of paint, which the artist calls “a really sorry story” from an area known as Walu. The painting chronicles the actions of a naughty boy who stole food from the Owl people, but denied it. One day the Owl Men brought back an emu for dinner and the little boy pulled out its heart, spilling blood onto the rocks as he ran away. Due to his misdeeds, the boy was turned into the wind. Looping lines serge with punitive force, and are delicately dotted to remind us of the dissolving fate of the boy who couldn’t contain his urge to steal and deny his transgressions.

--Pam McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art, 2012
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
40 x 60 in. (101.6 x 152.4cm)
Gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan
Provenance: [Alcaston Gallery, Victoria, Australia]; Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, Seattle, Washington, 2008
Photo: iocolor, Seattle
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, 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. 23, pp. 2-3, 98-99, reproduced.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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