Oregon artist honors immigrant agriculture

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The Kathrin Cawein Gallery is hosting an art exhibit throughout November, displaying the work of Betty LaDuke. Students and faculty welcomed LaDuke’s “Bountiful Harvest, From Land to Table” at an open house Oct. 11.

With individuals shoulder to shoulder in the small gallery, all eyes were on LaDuke’s impressive artwork. LaDuke’s show boasts wooden panels carved by hand and painted with vibrant colors, and smaller scale sketches of similar designs. Some panels even share space with photographs of LaDuke herself, in the field interacting with actual agricultural workers, sketchbook in hand.

These pieces express Oregon’s agriculture, the workers who tend to the land and the relation between these two communities. The importance of such a relationship is outlined in LaDuke’s artist statement, which states, “Agriculture is central to Oregon’s economy and accounts for one in ten jobs.”

To honor, celebrate and show respect for this work, LaDuke’s collection speaks for those who dedicate their lives to the land and its bounty. As an artist, LaDuke takes a natural approach to creating her work, which resembles the process workers often take to create flourishing crops.

“I am an artist with pen and sketchbook for shovel and earth,” Laduke wrote. “My seeds are the sketches I create of agriculture workers at farms, orchards, and vineyards as they plow, prune, weed, or harvest our food.”

Laduke said an evolution of such formative artwork turn into her final pieces, almost like the growth of a successful crop. Pacific University’s Art Department was happy to welcome LaDuke and her work to campus. Professor Jim Flory spoke highly of the collection stating it was, “Full of interesting pieces, paintings and sketches ,all done by hand, only solidifying the impressive craftsmanship LaDuke brings to her art.”

LaDuke’s “Bountiful Harvest” collection is still open to the public from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Mon.- Fri. in the Cawein Gallery in Scott Hall from now to Nov. 21.


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