Lecture

Constance Fowler: The Oregon Scene and American Modern Art

Professor Emeritus and Senior Faculty Curator Roger Hull
Sunday, June 9 at 2 p.m.
Roger Hull Lecture Hall at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art
Free and open to the public 

The painter and printmaker Constance Fowler joined the Willamette University faculty in 1935, the same year that the Oregon Capitol was destroyed by fire directly across the street from Fowler's office and teaching studios in Eaton Hall on the Willamette University campus. For Fowler, the fire and the ensuing redevelopment of the Capitol Mall signaled the end of "the old days" in Salem.

One of her most enduring artistic accomplishments is her set of 20 wood engravings that she published as The Old Days in and Near Salem, Oregon (Seattle, 1940). The engravings, which depict pioneer structures and sites in the Willamette Valley as they existed in 1938, are regional examples of Depression-era American art that focused on the country's origins and roots. Even as Fowler completed her historic sites project, however, American art was radically changing with the rise of Abstract Expressionism during and after World War II. 

Roger Hull will discuss Fowler's 1930s Oregon scene paintings and prints as the basis of her evolving approach to artmaking as she responded to American modern art in the second half of the twentieth century.

Waller Hall by Constance Fowler

Constance Fowler, Waller Hall, 1938-40 (reprinted 1969), wood engraving, 6 ½ in. x 6 in., gift of Constance Fowler, FOW92.003.