Art exhibition explores relationships between cultural identity and landscape

The ways in which identity, memory and tradition intersect with the African country of Namibia are at the heart of Andries Fourie’s exhibit, “Reading the Terrain,” showing at Willamette University’s Hallie Ford Museum of Art April 14 through May 12.

Consisting of three large-scale sculptures and eight to 12 multi-media paintings, Fourie says he hopes the artwork will inspire people to think about the relationships between land and people.

“I am interested in the way Namibians define themselves through their connection — nostalgic or current — to the land and to indigenous plants and animals,” he says. “Namibians are defined by the land, which shapes their languages, histories, traditions and cultures.”

Fourie is a sculptor and associate professor of art at Willamette University. A native of South Africa, he says he uses art as a way to explore the world. His latest exhibition is the result of two research trips to Namibia during the summers of 2010 and 2011.

“I’m an immigrant, and therefore this exhibit is a connection to the landscape I came from,” he says. “I’m interested in using art as a way to investigate and understand patterns. I’m hoping people will look at these pieces as more than just pretty things and see that there are parallels between art and science.”

As a special feature, Fourie will present an illustrated, free lecture about his recent work April 13 beginning at 5 p.m. in the Roger Hull Lecture Hall. He will also give a free gallery talk about the exhibition at 12:30 p.m. April 17 in the Atrium Gallery.

“The art you make reflects your personality, the way your mind works,” Fourie says. “The landscape shapes everything about us.”

“Andries Fourie: Reading the Terrain” has been supported in part by grants from the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State St. in Salem. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Monday. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and students. Children younger than 12 get in free, and Tuesday is a free day.

For more information, call 503-370-6855.