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The Artist

“Conversations with a Crow”

Extract from Essay by Djon Mundine OAM, Indigenous Curator – Contemporary Art, Campbelltown Art Centre, 2007

‘My people will disappear for a time but when they return artists will lead them.’ Louis Riel [Méetis leader, 1844-1885, att.]

Karla is Wiradjuri, her parents are from Mascot, Sydney. Karla Dickens was born in Sydney in 1967; the Year of the Referendum, that gave Aboriginal people human status within the nation called Australia. A double dawn for Aboriginal people; a major national political and social shift, and an innocent new born seemingly as yet without any connection to her history and Aboriginal heritage. As she tells, the process of moving from childhood to the present was a colourful and, at times, destructive journey of self discovery. Ironically and literally a truly dark but noble ‘Dickensian’ life. In the 1970s feminists spoke of being three times discriminated against – being Aboriginal, being a woman, and being gay. Karla’s Aboriginality and sexuality do profoundly inform her work – yet her insight and breadth of artistic practice both embraces the notion of identity politics deeply and yet works with universal human experiences. Her work truly fosters an intra and cross cultural dialogue through the forum of contemporary art.

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