An exhibit of traditional Australian Aboriginal artwork by women will be on display at the Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery at Santa Monica College beginning Tuesday, Aug. 31 and continuing through Oct. 16.

The Painted Song: Australian Aboriginal Women’s Paintings from The Kelton Foundation looks at indigenous cosmology, humans’ connections to the earth and traditional “dreaming” stories, a gallery spokesperson says.

The opening reception is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 28. at the Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery in the college Performing Arts Center, Santa Monica Boulevard and 11th Street.

The paintings are provided from the Kelton Foundation, a Santa Monica-based private nonprofit organization that maintains the largest private collection of Australian Aboriginal Art in the United States.

The works, which are based on ceremonial ground and body paintings, reflect the unique perspective of Aboriginal women and the dreaming stories that form the basis of indigenous cosmology, said Kerry Smallwood, the Kelton Foundation’s vice president and curator of Aboriginal art.

“We have a lot to learn from Aboriginal people,” Smallwood said. “They know how to live on the earth harmoniously. Their art reflects the mythic journeys that extend across the continent in a grid-like pattern that determines ancestral claims and current ownership of land, rights and responsibilities.

“While each Aboriginal culture, or language group, has its own dreaming stories, many of the protagonists are shared across the country.”

Smallwood said that the paintings in the SMC exhibit are by women artists from Central Desert Aboriginal communities along with the work of two urban artists. She added that while Aboriginal women are social, political and ceremonial leaders in their communities, they have been largely ignored as artists.

“Through their artwork we are privileged to experience the wisdom of their painted song,” she said.

Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Information, (310) 434-3434.

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