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Today is the United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. In acknowledgement of the day and as a reflection of Indigenous Peoples contributions to our world, Google is launching a collection of new wallpapers on Pixel devices. These wallpapers were designed by Ryhia Dank – a Gudanji and Wakaja woman from Garranjini in the Northern Territory, Australia – whose paintings tell stories and pay respects to her heritage.
Pixel’s Curated Culture collection of wallpapers celebrate different cultural moments throughout the year, and this collection includes colorful images that represent Ryhia’s story and land. We sat down with Ryhia to hear how her Country and ancestors inspire her work.
Ryhia, tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re from.
I am from Garranjini (Barkly Tablelands, Northern Territory, Australia) and my Kujiga is connected to Marrambarna songline. I am a Gudanji and Wakaja woman.
So much of your artwork and the Pixel wallpapers you created are focused on the elements and the earth. What are you finding inspiration in now with the world around you?
I find it very interesting the way the environment comes and goes into favor and the disjoint between human bodies and the earth body. As a Black woman, my body is as entangled with my Country as it is possible to be and it is also that entwined relationship that inspires me. If we think about the amazing body which is the earth, that body is the first one which we should always hold sacred. Once we damage that body, the damage to our human body is tenfold. I am inspired by the earth body — the whole of the earth body and not just my backyard. My Country inspires the grounding and informs my knowledge and acts of recording my storywork.
You call your painting “storywork.” What stories inspired you to create these wallpapers?
My ancestors didn't make art. They produced images and icons which told stories and taught us who and how we are. There is an important shift in aesthetics in the understanding that my images are storywork. My images act in the same way that an alphabet does — they hold secret and not-so-secret knowledge.
What wallpaper is on your phone?
My current wallpaper is actually a collection of stickers I sell; they’re a part of a campaign I started to raise awareness of fracking on my Traditional land, something that directly impacts my Country.
However, if I were to choose one of my Pixel artworks as a wallpaper, I would have Waterways. This one reminds me of fishing with my Mimi as a child on Country, a memory I treasure.
Check out more of Ryhia’s work and try out the latest Curated Culture wallpapers on your Pixel today.