A vision of the mid-century mother
New at Norway House
Wayzata, Minn.-born Judy Olausen entered the University of Minnesota planning to study architecture. When a class she planned to take was full, she substituted a course in photojournalism taught by Dr. R. Smith Schuneman. He became an important mentor for her, and the class changed the course of her career. Olausen graduated with a bachelor’s in photojournalism in 1967.
A personal project developed into a best-selling and influential book, Mother, published in 1996, which broke a sales record at The New York Times. Olausen described her book as “… a vision of the Eisenhower era mother, eager to please, ready to serve and blissfully sweeping the unmentionable under the rug.” It is also a loving tribute to her mother, Vivian, who modeled for the images. Quoted in Harper’s, Olausen described her mother as part of “… a forgotten generation of women who put their kids and husbands before their own needs and hovered in the background, like furniture.” Her image “Mother as Coffee Table” conveys this perfectly.
This canonically Minnesotan and Nordic-American artist will show her work in the Gallery at Norway House this summer. The exhibit, sponsored by Borton Overseas, runs from June 21 to Sept. 1.
Judy Olausen will be present at the exhibit’s opening night reception, June 21, 6-8 p.m. The following day at 11 a.m., she will be back to give a presentation on her work, Mother, and the science behind how our brain tricks us into not accurately remembering things we think we see. The opening event is free to all, and the presentation is $5 for Norway House members, $10 general admission.
Norway House partners with individuals, organizations, and businesses in the Norwegian-American community to promote an appreciation of the American Norwegian experience and its relationship to modern Norway and the world. For more information, visit www.norwayhouse.org.
This article originally appeared in the June 14, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.