Bathurst-based Wiradyuri conceptual artist Amala Groom has been selected as the sole NSW finalist in the 2020 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards [NATSIAA].
Considered Australia's most prestigious Indigenous art awards, NATSIAA is held every year at Darwin's Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory [MAGNT] to celebrate inventive, expressive works from emerging and established Indigenous artists.
Groom said she's humbled to be acknowledged among the finest Indigenous artists in the country.
"It's a real honour and privilege for my work to be selected in Australia's most competitive First Nations art award," she said.
"Through my finalist work, I hope to convey the Wiradyuri practice of marrumbang [love and kindness] and that we are ngumbaay-dyil [all together in one place - "all are one"]."
Groom has gained significant recognition nationally and internationally for her art, and uses her work to challenge the deep-seated impact of colonialism on Australian society.
"I come from a background in politics and advocacy and through my art, I am unpacking the philosophy of the Colonial Project and asserting the argument that colonialism isn't just disadvantageous for First Nations peoples, but is in fact antithetical to the human experience", she said.
"On a deeper note, I am seeking to make work that speaks to the union of all peoples and to the indivisibility of the human experience that traverses identity, culture, race, class, gender and religious worship".
Groom said initiatives such as NATISIAA allow for a national platform to showcase the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultural practice.
"I am compelled to make art as the performance of my cultural sovereignty and as an agent for social and political change," she said.
Groom wants to use her NATSIAA selection to celebrate the generosity, resilience and strength of Wiradyuri cultural practice.
The winner of NATSIAA's top prize will receive $50,000 and will be announced in August.
Groom has an upcoming career retrospective exhibition, RE-Union scheduled for release at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery [BRAG] later this year, COVID-19 situation permitting, and will be curated by BRAG director Sarah Gurich.