Keith Achepohl: If It Please You Lord
February 15 – April 27, 2014
Study Gallery and Print Study Center
Keith Achepohl’s art offers a glimpse into the intimate world of ex-votos
SALEM, Ore. — The Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University presents the exhibition “Keith Achepohl: If It Please You Lord” in the Study Gallery and Print Study Center between Feb. 15 and April 27.
Achepohl is a nationally recognized artist and Professor Emeritus of Art from the University of Iowa who lives in Eugene. During the past four years, he has created a series of images inspired by ex-votos. Organized by Director John Olbrantz, the exhibition features 40 mixed media works on paper and includes a selection of 19th- and 20th-century ex-votos from the artist's collection.
Achepohl became intrigued with ex-votos and started collecting them from cities throughout the Mediterranean over 40 years ago. Ex-votos often take the form of a flat embossed metal sheet that represents either a plea for help to a saint or divinity, or one’s gratitude for an answered prayer. An image of a swaddled baby might represent the desire for a good birth or the answered prayer for the healing of a sick child.
Ex-voto, unknown artist, metal, ca. 20th century, 7.75 x 2.4 in., courtesy of Keith Achepohl, Eugene, Oregon.
“I’ve always been fascinated by what these have meant in people’s lives. Throughout history who has not made a wish or communicated a private aching need or tender longing to a higher power? I have a profound respect for any object that allows a person to convey a personal emotion so powerful as to give over or suspend reason for blind faith,” says Achepohl.
For Achepohl, each piece in his series represents a narrative of the imagined journey of various individuals whose intimate prayers have been answered and their corresponding beautiful and tender process of giving thanks.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color hardcover book with an essay by Professor Kate Wagle, Associate Dean of the College of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon in Portland. Wagle discusses Achepohl’s drawings within the context of the ex-voto tradition.
About the artist
Achepohl received a B.A. from Knox College, an M.F.A. degree from the University of Iowa, and honorary doctorates from Pacific Lutheran University and Knox College. At the School of Art at the University of Iowa, he was head of the printmaking division and taught undergraduate and graduate courses for many years. Fulbright awards took him to Egypt and Turkey.
Achepohl has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. His work is included in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, Spain; the Kobe Art Museum in Kobe, Japan; the Art Institute of Chicago and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art among many others.
A reception will be held on April 11 in the Maribeth Collins Lobby at the museum between 6 - 8 p.m.
Financial support for the exhibition and book has been provided by a special project grant from Fine Creative Media, Inc. in New York, and by general operating support grants from the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.