'Finding the Hjemland: Herbjørn Gausta and the Immigrant American Artist Experience'

Luther College professor Kate Elliott to present Paideia Texts and Issues lecture March 5

Examining the intersection of immigration and art, Luther College associate professor of art history, Kate Elliott will discuss identity formation in "Finding the 'Hjemland:' Herbjørn Gausta and the Immigrant American Artist Experience" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, in the Recital Hall of the Center for Faith and Life on Luther's campus.

The event, the third Paideia Texts and Issues lecture of the 2018-19 series "Journeys and Hospitalities," is open to the public with no charge for admission. A reception will follow in Qualley Lounge.

What does it mean to call two places home? How does place inform artistic production? How can art be used to help negotiate a sense of rootlessness that often accompanies the immigrant experience? The career of Herbjørn Gausta can help us to understand the process of identity formation among early immigrant artists in the Upper Midwest.

Born in Norway in 1854, Gausta’s family settled in this region in the late 1860s. He attended Luther College and then, like many American artists of his generation, went abroad to further his artistic education, traveling first to Oslo and then to Munich, before returning to America to establish his professional art career. Throughout these migrations, Gausta navigated between multiple identities, making his career a perfect case study to examine the larger question of the role of art in the formation of American identity at the turn of the century. 

Elliott's research has centered on the role art plays in both regional and national identity construction. Her book, "Spaces Between: First Contact Imagery in American Art," currently under review, argues that First Contact images, or images of North American Anglo explorers and their first encounters of Native people, were integrally tied to the construction of a set of origin myths for the young American nation. Elliott's recent project aims to compile a catalogue raisonné, or an annotated list of all known Gausta works. This project has spurred several side projects, including this Paideia Text and Issues lecture.

Elliott is Luther associate professor of art history. She also serves as curator of the Fine Art Collection and Galleries. At Luther, she teaches art history courses from prehistory to the present and Paideia courses.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,005, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.