Paola Balla is a Wemba-Wemba and Gunditjmara woman with Italian and Chinese heritage. She is an artist, curator, writer, educator and speaker whose projects engage with the complexities of race and identity in history as well as the impacts of racism in contemporary society.
Balla has worked as a senior curator on the First Peoples exhibition at the Melbourne Museum. In 2010 she developed the Footscray Community Arts Centre’s first Indigenous Cultural Program and curated the exhibition Blak Side Story, which won the ArtsHub Contribution to Community Development award in 2011. She was the curator of Executed in Franklin Street at the City Gallery in 2015–16 which was Highly Commended in the Australia and New Zealand Museums and Galleries Awards for Indigenous Projects. She is also the co-curator of Sovereignty, an exhibition of contemporary and historical works of art from First Nations peoples of south-east Australia at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in 2017.
Balla’s own art practice is driven by concerns for social justice and addresses the impacts of colonial trauma, particularly on women and children. Her work is personal, drawn from her own experiences and that of her family, and in turn reflects upon the nature of Australian society and history. In 2011 and 2014 she won the Victorian Indigenous Art Award for Three Dimensional Works.
Paola is a member of the Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Unit at Victoria University, where she is currently undertaking a Creative Thesis PhD as the inaugural Lisa Bellear Indigenous Research Scholar.