"Betty LaDuke: Honor the Earth" Exhibit at Willamette

Betty LaDuke is a highly regarded Ashland painter and printmaker whose work focuses on multicultural issues and her travels to Asia, the South Pacific, Central and South America, and Africa over the past forty years. A major exhibition of her African work, "Betty LaDuke: Honor the Earth," focuses on a wide variety of food- related themes. It opens June 8 and continues through August 3 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University.

LaDuke was born and raised in New York, the daughter of Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants. She traces her interest in other cultures to a multi-racial summer camp she attended as a youth and where she had an opportunity to work with African-American artists Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett, both of whom she credits as important mentors and role models. LaDuke lived in Mexico for a time, married Native American activist Sun Bear (Vincent LaDuke), and eventually earned her BA and MA degrees from California State University in Los Angeles.

Throughout her adult life, LaDuke has worked as a teacher and lecturer. She taught at the Grand Settlement House in New York in the late 1950s and at Stevenson Junior High School in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. In 1964, she accepted a full-time teaching position at Southern Oregon University in Ashland where she taught drawing, painting, and introduced a number of new courses on women artists and art in the Third World for 32 years.

In 1972, LaDuke went to India and spent a month traveling and sketching. This trip would have a profound impact on her life and would set the course for future journeys to Asia, the South Pacific, Central and South America, and Africa. Over the years, LaDuke has been featured in numerous one person and group exhibitions and is represented in public and private collections throughout the United States. In addition to her artwork, she has published six books and four videos featuring her work and travel.

Since 1986, LaDuke has been keenly interested in the people and cultures of Africa and has sought to portray the color, texture, and rhythms that dominate African rural life. In countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda, she has explored such universal themes as creation myths, birth, death, children, courtship, marriage, food production, markets, sacred sites, and the spirit's journey. With pencil and sketchbook in hand, she has visited a dozen African countries and captured her impressions of the people and how they relate to their environment. A strong subtext of her African work is food-related themes, including farming, harvesting, processing, marketing, food as myth, and food as ritual.

LaDuke will give an illustrated slide lecture on her work Friday, June 7, from 5 to 6 p.m. On Wednesday, June 12, at 7 p.m., two films on LaDuke will be shown: "Betty LaDuke, An Artist's Journey from the Bronx to Timbuktu" and "Africa, Between Myth and Reality." Both the lecture and films will be held in the Roger Hull Lecture Hall at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Admission is free.

"Betty LaDuke: Honor the Earth" has been supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State Street (corner of State and Cottage Streets) in Salem on the campus of Willamette University. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Sunday and Monday. Admission to the galleries is $3 for adults, $2 for students, and $2 for seniors. Children under 12 are admitted for free.

For further information, please call 503/370-6855.