by Aimee Peters
“If I did this exhibition in Chile, or if someone saw me talking to you about The Mapuche, we would both be arrested,” says artist Cecilia Castro.
Her exhibition, held recently at the Sydney College of Arts Gallery, documents the challenges faced by Chile’s indigenous people, The Mapuche. Living below the poverty line, The Mapuche are the lowest class in the country’s strict cast system. Because of this, anyone who associates with, or supports them may be goaled; in this way, the Government continues to keep power and control over them.
“In Australia we are so fortunate to be able to express ourselves like this through art,” Ms Castro says.
Her aim is to raise awareness through her sculptures. “Under the banner of art we can take something so insignificant, like a piece of wood, and use it to shine a light, to represent a change.”
Now nearing the end of her studies at the Sydney College of Arts, she was planning to go back to Chile on exchange in 2013, but was denied a visa by the Chilean Government. Instead, she is going to Norway. “Norway is big on public art and I want my art to be displayed outdoors for everyone to see; that’s what my sculptures are made for.”
Since 1976, the Gollege’s gallery has provided students a place to exhibit their work. Every Wednesday night. there is an exhibition of student work at the Rozelle campus, put together by co-directors Navid Ghezelayagh, Fleur Wiber and Michael Filocamo. Students are invited to pitch their art works to the co-directors who then work with them on developing and creating the exhibition. An exhibition may run for one night or several weeks and is free to everyone.
Michael Filocamo says the gallery has an important place in the College’s teaching and learning program. “If we didn’t have it, it would be like trying to teach a chemistry degree without a lab. It’s essential part of an art practice.”
Next year, the Gallery, with the SCA Union, will open a larger gallery, closer to Rozelle’s main thoroughfares in order to attract a larger public audience and give students more exposure.