Gloria Orenstein examines the work of artist, Betty La Duke. More
Exemplifying many of the concepts embedded in our issue’s focus on Great Age, Betty La Duke, now at eighty-two, has been making art that celebrates the life force in human, animal, and plant dwellers on our planet as she traveled the world “From the Bronx to Timbuktu” (her way of describing the arc of her journey) all of her adult life. During her artistic pilgrimages across the globe for the last six decades, she has visited many cultures and painted the lives of indigenous peoples as a cross- cultural celebration of life in all its diversity. Through her art, La Duke has honored the values she observed in her subjects’ working lives, their daily activities of nurturance and sustenance of the earth, their quests for a lasting peace despite the adversities they encountered, as well as their ceremonial reverence for the unseen forces of spiritual heritage and ancestry that have contributed to their peoples’ endurance throughout time. Her oeuvre has most recently been exhibited at The Rogue Valley International Airport. The permanent installation of twenty-six wood panels, each approximately 48” tall by 40” wide dominates over 100 feet of the wall. The exhibition is entitled Celebrating Local Farms and Farmworkers. These panels recognize a major component of Rogue Valley economy: agriculture. The workers are primarily from Mexico, both seasonal and permanent residents. We depend upon the labor of approximately one million farm workers in the US, mostly invisible to the public, for our food supply.
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