First Nations Speaker Series with Dr Virginia Keft
5 May 2022
Yarning & Art: Cultural wellness and caring for mob in the museum
Dr Virginia Keft presented at the First Nations Speaker Series in May 2022.
Dr Keft shared insights into ‘Art Yarns: For Older and Elder Mob’ – a culturally responsive contemporary art program she established and delivered through the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia.
Dementia is nationally recognised as one of the largest growing health concerns across the population in Australia. Research has shown that dementia prevalence amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is almost five times higher than that of the general population. Dr Virginia Keft identifies a major gap in the availability of services that provide culturally appropriate and informed creative and social programs to better engage and support older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia and their families. Specifically, she discusses the significant role that art and art making may play in supporting positive connections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to culture, Country, kinship, knowledge systems and beliefs.
Art Yarns: For Older and Elder Mob, is entirely Aboriginal designed, implemented, and delivered. Art Yarns proposes to provide positive art experiences for older people in an informal shared social environment. The program fosters the notion that intergenerational exchange is integral to bolstering strong connections to cultural identity. The program hopes to contribute to filling the considerable gap in current well-being services available to those living with dementia in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander urban Community.
About Dr Virginia Keft
Dr. Virginia Keft is a proud Muruwari Woman; First Nations Producer, a practicing artist, curator, and award-winning researcher with over 25 years’ experience working in the Arts Sector. Virginia has produced and curated artistic and cultural programs that celebrate and recognise the continuity of Culture and the important contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made, and continue to make, to the Arts, education, community, and care of Country. To her curatorial practice, Virginia brings her commitment and deep respect for First Nations practices and protocols. She is passionate about making contemporary arts and culture accessible to broad audiences together with a commitment to help drive change through innovative and culturally safe arts and culture programs.
Virginia holds a Doctorate (PhD – Medalist) from the University of Wollongong, along with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (BCA – Distinction), and a Bachelor of Arts (BA – Class 1 Honours). Virginia holds the position of ‘Arts & Dementia Coordinator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia. In 2021, Virginia joined Blacktown Arts in the role of ‘Producer, First Nations’.
Virginia is the Founding Director and Producer of award-winning dance company, Cinnamon Twist Australia. She is an Associate Member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA). Virginia is a member of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, and the Red Rattler Theatre Aboriginal Advisory Board.