Mali Isabel is an Arabana and Kokatha artist based in Adelaide on Kaurna land. She has seamlessly blended her passion for education and art, creating contemporary dot paintings that radiate positivity and equality.
Recently commissioned for the AFL SportsReady Innovate RAP 23-25. Mali’s unique artwork, titled ‘Fly With Your Own Two Wings,’ is a testament to her journey, cultural roots and the opportunities provided by AFL SportsReady.
In 2020, Mali graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Primary Education from Flinders University, subsequently transitioning to a full-time artist.
Her contemporary dot paintings, characterised by a vivid rainbow palette, serve as a conduit for spreading joy, encouraging conversations and sharing personal stories. Mali’s art is a celebration of her Arabana and Kokatha heritage. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding land and translating it into enchanting landscapes.
Mali’s artistic prowess has garnered recognition, as seen in her commendation at the 2021 Our Mob Trevor Nickolls Art Prize. Notably, she made history as the first Aboriginal poster artist for the 2022 Adelaide Fringe Festival. Showcasing her ability to bridge traditional and contemporary art forms.
Connection with AFL SportsReady goes beyond her artistic endeavours. Struggling to find employment during her university years, Mali encountered an AFL SportsReady poster in her university’s Aboriginal room. This led her to secure a job at Officeworks, where she worked for five years. AFL SportsReady not only supported her but also facilitated job opportunities for her siblings and friends.
Deeply grateful for the positive experiences with AFL SportsReady that helped shape her career. Mali eagerly accepted the opportunity to contribute to the AFL SportsReady RAP launch.
Mali’s commitment is grounded in her belief in the organisation’s work, highlighting the positive impact it has had on her life and career.
Commissioned artwork for the AFL SportsReady RAP launch, ‘Fly With Your Own Two Wings,’ is a contemporary piece that reflects Mali’s experience of reconnecting with her culture and finding her wings in the metropolitan landscape of Adelaide.
The background of the artwork symbolises the layers of life, with vibrant rainbow colours representing the beauty of life. The waterhole symbol, central to Arabana culture, signifies the preciousness of water, essential for life. The eagle, a prominent feature in this piece, represents the opportunity AFL SportsReady provided Mali, enabling her to soar independently—a theme resonant with others who have gone through the program.
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Mali Isabel’s artistic journey, deeply intertwined with her cultural roots and AFL SportsReady experiences, serves as an inspiring narrative of resilience, cultural connection, and personal growth. Through her vibrant artwork, Mali continues to bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary. Generating conversations about culture, equity, and the transformative power of opportunities provided by organisations like AFL SportsReady. ‘Fly With Your Own Two Wings’ not only celebrates Mali’s journey but also symbolises the collective empowerment and support offered by AFL SportsReady to young individuals pursuing career paths.