The mission of the Memorial Union Gallery is to line up a diverse schedule of art exhibits, in a variety of genres that reflect the broad and diverse interests of the OSU and greater Corvallis community.
The art featured represents an artist’s work, vision, ideas, and opinions. Some exhibits are educational, some display quality craftsmanship or artistic ability, while others may depict artistic expressions that we hope enrich and deepen the appreciation and understanding of visual arts and the human condition.
The Memorial Union Gallery, located on the Mezzanine floor of the MU, is open during the building's hours.
MARINA HAJEK (HERRERA)
Born in New York in 1959 to Guatemalan parents, our family moved back to Guatemala when I was an infant. I returned to the USA when I was 28 years old. My work is about duality…. my two lives, in Guatemala and the United States. However, my work is more a metaphor of the dual lives of women, caught between culture and expectations. My work speaks about the human condition. The unstable political atmosphere in Guatemala in which I grew up during the Civil War made a strong impression in my life. Once living in the USA, I started creating pieces in which I expressed my political opinion and emotions in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to do in Guatemala. When I work on a piece based on my own experiences and emotions, I realize the connection with everyone else. We have all gone through something similar, and many do not know how to express it. I love it when someone can identify with the emotions that I am trying to show through my work. In these paper casted works, I use recycled paper to make my own paper pulp. The subject justifies the medium. This project is about giving a voice to the immigrant; the participants were invited to write letters to the people of the USA. The people need to hear the other side of the story about immigration and connect with the person behind it. When you read the letter, you are also looking at the person behind the story. With my work I tried to give a voice to the voiceless.
Born in Laufenburg, Switzerland, Ralf then resided in Germany until he moved to the US in 2003, and to Eugene, OR in 2010. After a 25-year long involvement in designing commemorative coins, Ralf’s connection with Eugene friends and artists fostered his desire to create art not for consumers, but rather art that reflected his own thoughts and beliefs - in particular about social justice & environmental issues. Ralf's life as an artist started in 2020. Ralf utilizes mixed media assemblage, and characterizes his style as ‘art with purpose’, leaning towards conceptual art but with higher emphasis on execution and aesthetics. All elements used in his work are found, reused, or re-purposed.
He states: “I have been an avid student of the industrial revolution and the social issues it created. My studies in this field earned me two 2nd Place awards in Germany’s Federal President’s competition of historic studies, in 1978 and 1979. What I found & learned during these studies, and the pictures and images my mind created back then, I never forgot. The images of child labor in particular. With the new opportunity of discussing child labor via art, I put all energy and focus during 2021 on this very subject which resulted in a body of work about child labor, “Turning the/into Tools”, and I continue to create pieces on this topic."
The past few years have been traumatic for our country, our community and for me. We survived 4 years of horrific governmental leadership, dangerous deregulations, overt racial injustices, horrible disasters caused by climate change, an attack on our nation’s capitol by insurrectionists, and countless other stressful events, only to be hit by a global pandemic causing more than 1.2 million deaths in the United States, and counting. In addition, in the past year, I went through breast cancer treatment, my husband had open-heart surgery and my daughter went through a difficult and devastating celebrity divorce with her four young children. To find my equilibrium in those stressful days, I channeled my creative energy into making art that depicts some of the troubles I fret over. I feel it is my responsibility to document things as I see and feel them for future generations. My art pieces are like time capsules capturing my responses to the events in my life. Some of my art is personal, and relates to my reactions to a world on fire, while other pieces comment on regional, national or global issues. All of my pieces help get the unwanted thoughts of pain and suffering out of my head and into a tangible form. There, they are frozen in time as a reminder and a reflection that I need not carry with me any longer. As I share them, I am hoping others are affected and perhaps motivated enough to help create the changes in themselves or in the world that are so desperately needed. On the flip side, I also create more hopeful work from beauty and nature to help release myself from the grips of what feels like truly hopeless situations. No matter how bad things are I am sincerely grateful for the miracle that is my life and for my wonderful family and friends that give my life substance and meaning beyond the 24 hour news cycle.
Karen Russo is a figurative ceramic sculptor who lives and works in the lush green foothills of western Oregon. She chooses clay as her primary medium because of its malleability, capacity for transformation, and direct connection to the earth.
Karen’s sculptures explore the tensions of the feminine experience: strength and contemplation, youth and aging, love and grief, instability and equilibrium, hope and despair. Through these female archetypes, so evocative of the precious earth from which they were formed, Karen hopes to express an eternal optimism for the human spirit in a beautiful and turbulent world.
“I tell visual stories through carving and painting. My art is the observation of and interaction with an ever-changing landscape, a collaboration with the feminine and nature. The past several years of environmental, political, and social unrest are present in my collection of sculptures, Hope & Despair. Each sculpture responds to a world out of balance. The gesture of each figure conveys both human vulnerability and resiliency. Bodies are weighed down by their posture. Floral patterns both obscure and highlight their emotion. These sculptures represent women connected by a common thread, a kinship growing beyond their own isolation."
The goal of this project is to encourage and celebrate diversity in our community from an immigrant’s point of view. I grew up in Japan, a country where there isn’t much diversity. In some ways, it can make it easier for people to get along; however, new ideas or new ways of thinking are hard to nurture in a society with one value system. Here in Oregon, there are growing efforts to include people from diverse backgrounds in the community. In my view, the true benefit of inclusion is having a different perspective represented. Through this project, I want to highlight the richness of diversity in this community and celebrate how many different diverse backgrounds and values we already have. I also want to encourage the community to see past skin color to the values these differences can bring to make us stronger, wiser, more empathetic, kinder, and closer together. I am passionate about creating a legacy for each person and helping them tell their story through photos. I create a safe space for everyone who comes to my studio and capture people as who they are and how they want to be photographed. My goal is for each photo I take to make my subjects proud, to stand the test of time, and be enjoyed by their family for generations to come.