A silhouetted tree stands as a stark contrast to raging vibrant shades of red, orange and purple in artist Isabel Natividad’s Guyumba artwork.
“Guyumba is the Wakka Wakka word for 'light a fire'. In 2019 our country was ravaged by flames - a destructive force that brought many communities to their knees,” she said.
“But a flame is also a tool of rebirth and creation.
“All pasts are built upon flames and all futures start with a spark of hope, beginning a new age of healing and reconnecting with our country.”
Seventeen-year old Ms Natividad, an Assumption College Warwick student and graduate of the University of Southern Queensland’s Head Start program, has returned to the University as part of an exhibition of local Aboriginal artists.
Southern Queensland Landscapes’ First Nations Art Competition display, comprised of the finalists’ works, will be on show at the University’s Art Gallery from July 8 to September, 2022.
In addition to Ms Natividad, artists featured include Andrew Nelson, Bill Speedy, David Mccarthy, Jarryd Lawton, Lane Brookes, Melinda Luscombe, Michael Connolly, Peta Richardson, Shirley Delaney and Tareque Chapman.
“I love the medium of art and its ability to tell stories, it is very close to my heart,” Ms Natividad said.
“It was an honour to be given an opportunity to showcase my art alongside others from the Indigenous community. And when I found out I was a finalist, honestly, I couldn't believe it - I was over the moon.”
The exhibition opening coincides with NAIDOC Week 2022 which will be held from July 3-10 with the theme ‘Get up! Stand up! Show up!’.
“NAIDOC Week is extremely important to me as when grew up I didn't have many Indigenous friends to connect and share culture with, so it was a kind of lonely experience,” Ms Natividad said.
“But now, taking part in NAIDOC Week celebrations, I get to help show off Indigenous culture and how amazing it is.
“As my school’s Inclusivity captain, I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to bring that into my school and show all the Indigenous kids at my school that this culture is something that's truly amazing. And is something you should be proud to be a part of.”
University of Southern Queensland Curator (Arts and Exhibitions) Brodie Taylor said Southern Queensland Landscapes started the competition to help give First Nations artists from the 28 Nations throughout southern Queensland a vehicle to connect with other artists and a platform to showcase the talent of the region.
“This extraordinary exhibition, made possible by the vision of Southern Queensland Landscapes, provides this collective of First Nations artists with an opportunity before now unseen in our region,” he said.
“With their artistic voices enhanced, and on display for all in our community, this exhibition marks a seminal moment of celebration for our First Nation artists.”
University of Southern Queensland acknowledges the Giabal and Jarowair peoples of the Toowoomba area; the Jagera, Yuggera and Ugarapul peoples of Ipswich and Springfield; the Kambuwal peoples of Stanthorpe; and the Gadigal peoples of the Eora nation, Sydney, as the Traditional Owners where its campuses and hubs have been built, and whose cultures and customs continue to nurture the land.