October 22nd, 2021

Linfield Gallery Exhibit: Theodore A. Harris, Art as Social Praxis

Gallery patrons view Art as Social Praxis during the exhibition opening.

If the first two exhibitions at Linfield University’s James F. Miller Fine Arts Center this fall are any indication, art lovers are in for a year of some exciting, must-see programming at the McMinnville campus. 

The latest, Art as Social Praxis, has the distinction of channeling the spirit of one vibrant artist through the work of another, Philadelphia-based collagist, poet and author Theodore A. Harris, whose work will be on display through Nov. 20. The exhibition is sponsored by the Lacroute Arts Series and the Linfield University Department of Art.

The show is a tribute to the renowned art historian David Craven, who died a few years ago of a heart attack. Craven’s work on Latin American art, particularly as used as a tool for cultural and social critique, was internationally known.

Artist Theodore A. Harris speaks at the opening reception on October 14th.

“His work taught me that an artwork is not just an object,” Harris says in the show notes. “It is an object that acts as a mirror, reflecting the time of its creation and what you, the artist, had to say about that time in history.”

So Harris’s work lands at Linfield as both an ambassador for the spirit that animated Craven’s intellectual and artistic work, but also as a clarion call for … well, just like the title says: Art as a social praxis. 

The exhibition features a series of visually rich murals and photomontages and a series of posters that “confronts the concepts of power and race structures through the lens of art and art history,” according to the show notes. 

A hint of the exhibition’s perspective is spelled out in one of the images: “War is the sound of money eating.” Virtually all of the images appear pockmarked with bullet holes, and feature a portrait of America in which capitalism and militarism are two sides of the same coin.

It’s a challenging, powerful show that broadens the artistic spectrum represented by the area’s gallery scene. McMinnville has plenty of privately-owned art galleries to explore, but no tour of wine country’s art scene is complete without a Linfield visit. 

To visit the James F. Miller Fine Arts Center, go to the Highway 99 intersection in south McMinnville between Roth’s IGA and Albertson’s, head southeast on SW Keck Drive and after about a third of a mile, turn right on Library Court. The gallery (the exterior of which currently features a Harris mural) will be on your left (and student sculptural art lines the walking trail on your right). Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Saturdays noon-5 p.m.

David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.