Sixty-seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists have been selected to exhibit in the 2020 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), Australia’s most prestigious and longest running Indigenous art awards.

Finalists include Torres Strait Islander artist Jimmy K Thaiday and Jenna Lee. “Being selected as a finalist gives me the confidence that my work resonates with others, that they understand what I am saying through my art is important and has a message worth sharing. It’s an incredible honour and I am very proud,” Ms Lee said.

This year, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) and Telstra are working closely to reimagine Telstra NATSIAA to celebrate the artists and their practice under the Australian Government’s COVID-19 measures. Larrakia/Wadaman/Karajarri Curator Tina Baum, Wadjarri/Nhanda/Nyoongar Curator Glenn Iseger-Pilkington and MAGNT Curator of Aboriginal Art and Material Culture Luke Scholes selected this year’s finalists: 26 from the NT, 17 from WA, 16 from SA and 8 from QLD, NSW, ACT and Victoria.

“Pre-selection was challenging, as we knew it would be, but it was also incredibly reaffirming to see the unique ways people are telling stories, the ways people are reinventing traditional forms and materials and the generosity of our community in sharing the most personal, and often challenging stories, through their diverse practices,” Baum said.

MAGNT Director Marcus Schutenko expressed enthusiasm in receiving such a diverse range of submissions, especially during this difficult time. “We are holding steadfast to the 37-year legacy of these Awards and we continue our commitment to celebrating the rich culture and artistic practice of this year’s Telstra NATSIAA finalists,” Mr Schutenko said. T

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn raised the importance of staying connected during this time of self-isolation and that the medium of such incredible art does it best. “Whatever the style, whatever the medium, there is an extraordinary power and beauty in Indigenous art and given the times we are in, it gives us a chance to be inspired and helps us to see the world differently,” Penn said.

Among the finalists, 2020 Telstra NATSIAA is set to showcase 11 emerging artists who have practised for less than five years. The 2020 Telstra NATSIAA received 238 entries submitted by Indigenous artists from urban areas and remote communities across the nation. The artwork will be available for public viewing at the Telstra NATSIAA exhibition in August.

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