Sep 6, 2018

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (Thursday, August 30, 2018) – The Kluge-Ruhe Collection is pleased to announce that its newest exhibition, Freshwater Saltwater Weave, will feature artwork made over the last five years by one of Australia’s most acclaimed glass artists, Jenni Kemarre Martiniello. Martiniello’s glass artworks are inspired by the aesthetics of Aboriginal woven forms such as string bags, eel traps, fish traps and fish scoops. She will be a resident artist at Kluge-Ruhe September 15 – October 15 and will be a resident artist at the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Perry Glass Studio September 27-30.


At first glance, the mediums of glass and weaving have little in common, but Martiniello’s works draw surprising connections between the two. Knowledge, skills and trade secrets from both traditions have been passed down through the generations over centuries; both mediums are used in daily life for food storage and ceremonial use; both tend to be practiced in a group rather than individually; and both weaving and the use of glass canes involve the twisting, stretching and pulling of materials from which they are made.

Martiniello recalls seeing woven Indigenous objects in a museum as a child, displayed as if “they were relics from a dead past of extinct cultural practices,” despite knowing that the tradition was alive and a prominent part of living cultures. She describes her use of glass this way: “We are appropriating something that belongs to the dominant culture or the colonizing culture and turning it to our use so it becomes a vehicle of our cultural expression.” Harnessing the medium of glass, Martiniello makes a powerful statement about the endurance and vibrancy of woven traditions and her people’s ongoing connection to place. Kluge-Ruhe curator, Henry Skerritt says: “All around the world, artists like Jenni Kemarre Martinello are breaking down the barriers of what can and cannot be considered contemporary art. By bringing together seemingly disparate mediums, subjects and histories, they show us that the world is bigger, more diverse and more beautiful than such outdated categories can contain. Yet again, it is a thrill to be able to introduce Americans to such a globally significant artist.”

The Kluge-Ruhe Collection’s residency program is sponsored by Australia Council for the Arts, and the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass also contributed to Jenni Kemarre Martiniello’s visit. Once Martiniello’s residency at Kluge-Ruhe was confirmed, the museum involved the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Perry Glass Studio in Norfolk, VA, which is a hub for glass artists on the east coast. Given Martiniello’s reputation internationally, Director Robin Rogers was quickly on board, and Jenni will be a resident artist at the Perry Glass Studio September 27-30. She will be working on new works with their team during the Studio’s public hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 – 5 pm, and will give a lecture about her work on Sunday at 4 pm.

“Kluge-Ruhe always tries to connect resident artists with their peers and other museums across the state and nationally. The Chrysler has provided an extraordinary opportunity for Jenni to work at a top-notch hotshop with established artists, and to reach a broader audience,” said Kluge-Ruhe Director Margo Smith AM.

Jenni Kemarre Martiniello is an award-winning visual artist, poet, writer and photographer of Arrernte, Chinese and Anglo-Celtic descent. She was NAIDOC Artist of the Year in 2010 and in 2013, she won the prestigious Telstra Award at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. Her works are held in numerous public and private collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian Parliament House Collection, the Corning Museum of Glass and the British Museum. She is based in Canberra and is represented by Sabbia Gallery in Sydney and Paul Johnstone Gallery in Darwin, Australia. Jenni Kemarre Martiniello

Freshwater Saltwater Weave will be on view September 20, 2018 through January 6, 2019. During her residency in September and October, there are a number of opportunities for the public to meet Jenni and learn more about her art practice. She will be present for questions and conversation at Night at the Museum, Kluge-Ruhe’s summer concert series, on Thursday, September 20 from 5 – 9 pm. She will give a tour of her exhibition on Saturday, September 22 at 10:30 am, and she will deliver an artist talk on Thursday, October 11 at 6:00 pm. In addition to these events, she will be working with Professor Bill Bennett and students in the UVA sculpture department in collaboration with Robin Rogers and the Chrysler Museum’s mobile hotshop. Check for updated details. Martiniello’s residency is supported by Australia Council for the Arts and the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass.

Top image: Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, Yellow Rushes Fish Basket #2, 2017, hot blown and coldworked glass with canes, 43 x 37.5 x 34 cm, image courtesy the artist.

Bottom image: Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, Medium Green Reeds Eel Trap #4, 2015, hot blown glass with canes, 28 x 95 x 28 cm, image courtesy the artist.

About the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA: As the only museum outside Australia solely dedicated to the exhibition and study of Indigenous Australian culture and arts, the Kluge-Ruhe Collection is a global art asset of UVA and Charlottesville. Its collection houses over 1800 objects from across Australia in a variety of media, from eucalyptus bark to acrylic on canvas to photography and sculpture. The museum welcomes more than 25 visiting artists and scholars per year for an array of enriching educational programs and acts as a center for Indigenous Australian art in the United States. It is located on Pantops next to Martha Jefferson Hospital, and is free and open to the public Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am – 4 pm and Sundays from 1 – 5 pm. Learn more at or on the museum’s Facebook page.