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Atong Atem didn’t imply to develop into a photographer. In actual fact, after highschool she began finding out structure at Newcastle College, earlier than ultimately realising it wasn’t for her.
After assembly a gaggle of ‘bohemian, hippy varieties’, and travelling to Sydney, Atong determined to go away structure behind and enrol in Wonderful Artwork, majoring in portray. She later moved to Melbourne, finishing her Wonderful Arts diploma at RMIT. There, she started to experiment with pictures and portray, hand-tinting her personal images, paying homage to the historical past of studio pictures, and forging her personal modern model.
Atong has mastered using color in her work. Brilliant, clashing prints usually adorn her topics, who pose with energy and beauty of their hyper-patterned environments. The impact, as Atong describes, is ‘grand and anti-minimalist’.
Rising up on the Central Coast of New South Wales and coming from a South Sudanese background, Atong’s work explores private historical past and systemic inequalities. ‘Most of my work is about taking possession of my very own narrative,’ she elaborates, ‘and in addition, collaborating in a pre-existing historical past of artwork that centres blackness and our visible languages of expression.’
Atong’s work has reached new notoriety lately, after she acquired the Mecca M-Energy Scholarship, at the side of the NGV. ‘I used to be awarded the prize whereas I used to be on life hiatus in Fiji, contemplating settling down there for some time,’ she says. ‘It couldn’t have come at a extra pivotal second for me.’ The scholarship from Mecca sees Atong’s highly effective art work featured on a limited-edition launch of magnificence empire’s best-selling To Save Face sunscreen for Worldwide Ladies’s Day (with all proceeds going in the direction of The Starvation Venture), in addition to one-on-one mentoring alternatives and a money prize that has allowed her to purchase gear and different assets to increase her follow.
To be recognised by such important our bodies is a big accomplishment, however for Atong, profession milestones like this are about extra than simply her personal follow.
‘I feel the most important “YESSSSS!!” moments come from assembly different younger black individuals… and feeling understood by my very own neighborhood,’ she explains, ‘when our choices for fulfillment are extraordinarily restricted, it turns into nearly not possible to think about your self doing a factor you’re keen on, not to mention a factor you don’t see individuals such as you doing. I’d wish to assume my continued pushing by way of the Australian artwork world helps to create wider and extra accommodating paths.’