The inspiration for many of Regina Pilawuk Wilson’s paintings lies in another art form: weaving.
At a roundtable discussion at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Wilson explains that her people, the Ngangikurrungurr, who are indigenous to Australia’s Daly River region, had passed on fishnet stitches from generation to generation, each community having its own special stitch. But over time, as whites colonized the land and forced the Aboriginal people to live on reserves and missions (similar to Native American reservations) with strict rules that in many cases aimed to dissolve indigenous cultures and traditions, many of those fishnet stitches were lost.
In the early 1970s, Wilson and her husband started Peppimenarti, a community for the Ngangikurrungurr people, with little more than a tent. They had to leave the mission in order to practice their culture, their art, their language, says Wilson.
Wilson, a master weaver, sought to revive the fishnet stitches her ancestors used. Carrying a photograph of her mother with a piece of fishnet her grandfather had stitched, Wilson searched for someone who could teach her that particular stitch. She visited many “very old” women before finding one who remembered the stitch. Wilson then painted the stitch onto canvas, brushstroke by brushstroke, ensuring that it would be visible and not lost again.
“It’s like a story that’s been there forever,” says Wilson’s granddaughter, Leaya. “It’s like putting a culture in a canvas, a painting—it’s strong.”
Second Street Gallery curator Kristen Chiacchia says that when most people think of contemporary art, they think of it in the Western tradition—abstract paintings, severe sculpture—but there’s more to it. Contemporary art “is art of our time, not art of a place,” says Chiacchia. It’s why she wanted to give Wilson’s work a solo show at Second Street Gallery and give Charlottesville the chance to see contemporary art that will challenge expectations.
Wilson’s work remembers the past in order to understand the present and a promise of the future. It’s there in the title of show, “Ngerringkrrety” which, Wilson explains, means, “from our ancestors, we hold it very strong.”—Erin O’Hare
First Fridays: June 1
Angelo Jewelry 220 E. Main St. “Striation Series: Brazilian Tides & North Shore Waters,” featuring intimate drawings and mosaic mirrors by Eileen Butler.
Annie Gould Gallery 121B S. Main St., Gordonsville. An exhibition of works by Brigitte Turquois Freeman, Hannah Huthwaite, Mary Jane Zander, Carol Barber and Ted Asnis, through June 14. Beginning June 19, Alex Gould exhibits industrial and marine wooden sculpture.
Art on the Trax 5784 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet. “Where We Belong,” featuring work by Judith Ely. Open June 9.
FF The Bridge PAI 209 Monticello Rd. “Redefining the Family Photo,” a group exhibition of photography that shows how the definition of family has emerged and morphed in our local experience of celebration, grief and protest. 5-8pm.
Buck Mountain Episcopal Church. 4133 Earlysville Rd., Earlysville. “Welcome Spring!,” a multimedia group show of work by Buck Mountain Episcopal Church artists.
FF The Charlottesville Women’s Initiative 1101 E. High St. “Halcyon Explored,” featuring works from the Fiber and Stitch Collective artists. 5:30-7:30pm.
FF Chroma Projects 103 W. Water St. “An Exaltation of Larks,” a group show including work by Cynthia Burke, Kai Lawson, Kathryn Henry Choisser, Aggie Zed and others. 5-7pm.
FF CitySpace Art Gallery 100 Fifth St. NE. Third-graders share artwork, poems and writing on local change-makers. 5:30-7:30pm.
Crozet Artisan Depot 5791 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet. “The Magic of Polymer Clay” featuring work by Judith N. Ligon inspired by the colors, textures and patterns of nature. Opens June 9.
FF C’ville Arts Cooperative Gallery 118 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. “Virginia’s Wild Things” featuring pyrogravure on leather from Genevieve Story. 6-8pm.
The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA 155 Rugby Rd. “In My Room: Artists Paint the Interior 1950-Now”; “20th Century Still Lifes from the Permanent Collection,” featuring the work of Picasso, Braque and Carrie Mae Weems, among others; “The Art of Protest”; “Reflections: Native Art Across Generations”; and “Oriforme” by Jean Arp.
FF The Garage 100 W. Jefferson St. “This is Charlottesville,” featuring new work from Sarah Cramer Shields’ photography and story project. 5:30-7:30pm.
Jefferson School African American Heritage Center 233 Fourth St. NW. An exhibition of new work by Frank Walker that addresses the notion that black bodies are disposable and easily erased.
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection 400 Worrell Dr. “Beyond Dreaming: The Rise of Indigenous Australian Art in the United States”; and “Ngunguni: Old Techniques Remain Strong,” an exhibition of paintings on eucalyptus bark from northern Australia.
Les Yeux du Monde 841 Wolf Trap Rd. “The Livestock Marker Show,” featuring paintings by Gwyn Kohr, Kathy Kuhlmann and Russ Warren that use livestock markers as the medium. Opens June 9.
Live Arts 123 E. Water St. “Conversations in Wood & Paint,” featuring new work from sculptor Alan Box Levine and painter Jennifer Esser. Through June 8.
FF McGuffey Art Center 201 Second St. NW. “Wax, Fire & Fungi,” a four-artist show featuring work made from transformed natural materials, in the Sarah B. Smith Gallery; “Instinct” by Nancy Galloway and Joshua Galloway in the Lower Hall North Gallery; “Where We Live,” an exhibition of work about climate change by Jane Skafte in the Lower Hall South Gallery; “Little Creatures of the Mystery Woods and Other Works in Progress,” macro panoramic photographs by Aaron Farrington in the Upper Hall South Gallery; and Nathan Motley’s “George Harrison and Death Circa 1999-2010” in the Upper Hall North Gallery. 5:30-7:30pm.
FF New Dominion Bookshop 404 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. An exhibition of acrylic paintings by Janet Pearlman. 5-7:30pm.
Noon Whistle Pottery 328 Main St., Stanardsville. “Color Concerto,” featuring the paintings of Diane Velasco and Jane Angelhart. Opens June 2.
FF Roy Wheeler Downtown Office 404 Eighth St. NE. An exhibition of work from Kailey and Melissa Reid. 5-7pm.
FF Second Street Gallery 115 Second St. SE. In the main gallery, “Ngerringkrrety: One Voice, Many Stories,” an exhibition of paintings and weaving by Australian Aboriginal artist Regina Pilawuk Wilson. In The Backroom @SSG, a show of mixed media pieces by Sahara Clemons. 5:30-7:30pm.
Sidetracks Music 310 Second St. SE. “Bossa Nova,” featuring paintings by Jum Jirapan. June 2, 2-5pm.
Shenandoah Valley Art Center 122 S. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro. A members’ anniversary show judged by Leah Stoddard. June 2, 5-7pm.
FF Studio IX 969 Second St. SE. “Growers,” a show of collaborative works by Jeremy and Allyson Taylor that examines how humans interact with the natural world. 5-8pm.
FF Top Knot Studio 103 Fifth St. SE. “In the Land Where Poppies Bloom,” an exhibition by Golara Haghtalab featuring acrylic, spray paint and watercolor works on canvas that explore feelings of childhood nostalgia. 6-9pm.
FF VMDO Architects 200 E. Market St. An exhibition of work by multimedia artist Emmaline Thacker. 5:30-7:30pm.
FF Welcome Gallery 114 Third St. NE. “TRIO,” featuring three visually different, but thematically connected, bodies of work by Abby Kasonik. 5-7:30pm.
FF First Fridays is a monthly art event featuring exhibit openings at many downtown art galleries and additional exhibition venues. Several spaces offer receptions.