Newly appointed Queensland College of Art (QCA) alumnus Dr Carol McGregor will oversee Griffith’s unique Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art program as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Coming full circle

The acclaimed artist is of Wathaurung and Scottish descent and graduated from the Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art (CAIA) in 2012 and said she was delighted to return to the QCA to nurture the next generation of Indigenous artists.

“I’m delighted to be the first CAIA graduate to lead the program,” she said.

“It’s exciting and slightly daunting, but I have such a passion for CAIA and I’ve seen first-hand how this program can change lives.”

Dr McGregor completed her PhD at the Queensland College of Art in 2019. Her art practice explores the revival of traditional possum skin cloaks as an art form and a way to strengthen community identity.

Her work is currently on show as part of the New Woman exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane, and she has also exhibited in major shows in Canada and the US.

Dr McGregor and fellow artist Dr Fiona Foley were appointed as part of a Griffith University Arts, Education and Law (AEL) initiative to build research capacity among First Nations Peoples. It provides pathways for Griffith Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD students into an academic career.

“It’s such an important thing for the university to support,” Dr McGregor said.

“I went through the PhD program with other Indigenous artists, and I know how important it is to have that support after you graduate.”

A unique degree

Photo: Isabella Porras

Twenty five years ago, Griffith University created Australia’s first degree solely for Indigenous artists.

As part of their studies, students research their family history and traditions, undertake field trips to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and study contemporary culture and politics while receiving a solid foundation in everything from photography and painting to drawing, sculpture and printmaking.

Over the past 25 years, the Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art has nurtured some of the country’s most exciting artists, including Vernon Ah Kee, Dale Harding and Tony Albert.

The outgoing head of CAIA, Dr Bianca Beetson, was recently appointed Director of Griffith’s Indigenous Research Unit.