2008 — Dreaming Cows Mural Project
April 2 – May 26
Left: Wild rice is the soul-food of the Anihinaabe or Chippewa native peoples. It grows naturally along the edges of their northern lake reservations. Teamwork is required to harvest the rice; one person poles the boat along the shallow lake edge and another knocks the top of the grain stalks into the boat with two sticks. Heifer International has helped improve the equipment for cleaning and parching the rice before it can be eaten locally and marketed nationally.
Right: Practical experiences about food production are included in the curriculum at Gibbs Elementary School, Little Rock, AR. This role model project is composed of worm composting bins, a fenced hen house and a vegetable garden. Heifer International promotes this Dunbar Urban Farm Project, where children learn lessons that can be repeated at home about growing their food and maintaining a sustainable environment.
Left: While herding alpacas along Ecuador’s steep volcanic slopes, their caretaker spins yarn, spins dreams. Seated below are village spiritual leaders, husband and wife. “We are one with Pachamama, mother earth. Rituals are performed that honor the earth, the seeds that are nurtured by the earth and seasonally awakened to provide food for our life and for our community.”
Right: Husband and wife are like a tree of life that continues to expand its branches. Working with Heifer International staff, they learn new organic methods to enrich the soil to increase their food production and animal reproduction. As valuable as the gift of sheep, cows, rabbits, and guinea pigs is the knowledge they share with their community.
Left: “We are poor but our culture is great and our hearts are open to everyone! No one from our state institutions has ever come to visit us. We thank you for coming from so far away to be with us. We thank you for the cows, the training and the hope we now have for the future.”
Right: “The cow’s name is Nora. She is the only source of income I have. She was pregnant when I received her from Heifer International and had twins. One was very weak and I was told she would die. But I had already lost too much, so I fed her with bottle-milk and covered her with a blanket. She survived and did well, and now I have passed her on. I still have Nora.”
Left: Cows are like family; well-loved, sheltered and fed. They
in turn provide milk and yogurt for family and neighbors, manure for fertilizer, bio-gas for cooking and light. Families dream of increasing their cow herds and their opportunities.
Right: Nanfuka Teopista was trained in goat management by Heifer International before receiving her goat. As a result, she now has three goats that provide nourishment for her and two orphans, fertilizer for a vegetable garden, and additional income for the children’s school supplies and uniforms.
She has also passed on the gift of a goat to the Nalukenge Rose family.
Left: In addition to raising livestock for improved family nutrition, fruit and vegetable gardens are an integral part of the agricultural process. Extra produce is brought to the village market.
Right:Popular river markets are another source for Heifer project participants to
earn income from their gardens.
Below: With the guidance of Heifer International’s community developers, villagers come together to share their hopes and dreams. “The heritage we want to pass on is not only cows but good education and we want to build community leaders.”
Kosova & Albania
Celebrating cultural diversity has been the focus of my sketchbook travels and art for over 50 years. In Ashland, Oregon my large acrylic paintings evolve in my studio as a personal interpretation of worldwide communities, cultural traditions, physical and spiritual survival. They are organized as circulating educational exhibits such as: Impressions of India 1974; China, an Outsiders Inside View 1976; Papua New Guinea, Totems and Creation Myths 1982; Latin American Impressions 1984; and Africa, Myth, Magic and Reality 1990 and have been presented nationally and internationally. These experiences have prepared me for a new challenge!
In Dreaming Cows, a current exhibit, I conclude “the cup is half full,” as I am inspired by Heifer International (HI), a humanitarian organization concerned with world hunger and a sustainable environment. During my first visit to an HI project site in Rwanda 2003, I found a country reeling from genocide nine years earlier. How could the gift of a cow or goat make a difference for a family’s survival in body as well as spirit? Since then I continue to explore this theme with HI in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the United states.
My 32 Dreaming Cows paintings are symbolic stories which invite you with their diverse shapes, colors, and textures to meet the eyes of the people who inhabit them. We are global neighbors and our future survival depends on our greeting each other with mutual respect. The stories of the Dreaming Cow paintings are now presented in another format.
In 2007 I was invited by HI to create a mural for their Murphy-Keller Education Center in Little Rock, AR scheduled to open in 2009. This Dreaming Cows Mural Project, 7’ tall x 90’ wide, evolved as a series of individually cut and shaped plywood panels, approximately 7’ x 4’ each, representing HI projects around the world. Since they are also reproduced in gicleé print format, it is possible to present the Dreaming Cows Mural Project as a circulating exhibit.
These recent challenges are joyous experiences. For the first time I am partnering with an inspiring organization with outreach around the world that values my artistic work as a way to share their story of world hunger and sustainable solutions.
More information on Betty LaDuke’s circulating exhibits.
Location: Third Floor Galleries
Curator: Betty LaDuke