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“The Inside World” at Frost Art Museum: Video Discussion with Henry Skerritt – Art Historian, Curator

“The Inside World” at Frost Art Museum:  Video Discussion with Henry Skerritt – Art Historian, Curator



The Inside World: Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Memorial Poles from the Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection presents approximately 100 works by contemporary Aboriginal artists. The artists included in the exhibition come from Arnhem Land, a historical region in the Northern Territory of Australia.

These poles traditionally served as hollow log coffins, marking the final point in Aboriginal mortuary rites. Known by different regional names, including lorrkkon in the west and larrakitj in the east, the poles signified the moment when the spirit of the deceased had finally returned home—when they had left all vestiges of the mundane “outside” world and become one with the “inside” world of the ancestral realm.

Today, Aboriginal artists create these hollow log coffins as works of art.

The exhibition at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum on the campus of Florida International University (FIU) draws from the collection of Miami-based collectors Debra and Dennis Scholl. The exhibition catalog, edited by Henry F. Skerritt, explores the complex histories of memorial poles in Australia.

This exhibition continues at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum from July 11, 2020 to January 10, 2021.

In 2015, ArtSpeak recorded a video interview with Henry Skerritt in connection with the exhibition of a different group of art created by contemporary Aboriginal artists, but also drawn from collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl.  Below is our 2015 video interview with Skerritt, which offers some insights into the current exhibition as well.



No Boundaries at Pérez Art Museum Miami: Discussion with Henry Skerritt – Art Historian, Curator





Warlpapuka, Tommy Mitchell, 2009. © Tommy Mitchell estate, courtesy of Warakurna Artists.



No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) brings together the work of nine Aboriginal Australian artists: Paddy Bedford, Jananggoo Butcher Cherel, Tommy Mitchell, Ngarra, Boxer Milner Tjampitjin, Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Tjumpo Tjapanangvka, Billy Joongoorra Thomas, and Prince of Wales (Midpul). Each of these men is a leader within their community and while they began painting late in life, their works explore complex and innovative modes of abstraction. This exhibition highlights the distinctive vocabularies and modes of gestural expression that define each of these artist’s paintings and works on paper. Relating to cultural systems, religious beliefs, and social structures, these intricate works are at once distinctly grounded in the context of Aboriginal life and profoundly resonant with abstract painting of the 20th and 21st centuries. No Boundaries will tour the US extensively, and alongside its accompanying publication (edited by Henry F. Skerritt), it is a vital addition to the scholarship and discourse on contemporary Aboriginal painting.  The exhibition is drawn from the collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl, and will be displayed at PAMM from September 17, 2015 to January 3, 2016.

Henry Skerritt is an art historian, curator, and songwriter hailing from Perth in Western Australia. Skerritt is currently a doctoral candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2015, he edited the book No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting (Prestel Publishing and Nevada Museum of Art), which accompanies the exhibition by the same name.

Skerritt has written extensively on Aboriginal art and culture, including contributions to the publications Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art in Australia (Harvard Art Museums, 2016); Double Desire: Transculturation and Indigenous Contemporary Art (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014); Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art (Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2012); and Menagerie: Contemporary Indigenous Sculpture (Object: Australian Centre for Contemporary Craft and Design, 2009). Skerritt’s writings have also appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Artlink, Art Monthly Australia, Art Guide Australia, Meanjin, and Artist Profile. In 2011, Skerritt curated the exhibition Experimental Gentlemen at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne.

The videos below are organized by topic and run between 20 seconds and 3 minutes.  Tap on any video.  You must be connected to the Internet to view the videos.



Introduction to Henry Skerritt.  1:43 min.  Interview:  Raymond Elman.  Videography:  Manuel Perez-Trujillo.  Recorded: 9/18/2015, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)


To what extent did your community in Perth value Aboriginal art when you were growing up?


What was your first awareness of Aboriginal art?


How did your relationship with Aboriginal artists and their communities evolve?

SEIZE THE MOMENT:  2:04 min.

How did you connect with Dennis Scholl and the “No Boundaries” exhibition?


How have the Aboriginal artists managed to make contemporary artworks, yet retain the spirit and power of their ancestors?


How have the art materials used by Aboriginal artists evolved?



What did Jananggoo Butcher Cherel do before he became an artist? 



Tell us about the artist Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri.