Saying farewell to the Finlandia Gallery
Art's Corner, by Miriam Pickens
By Miriam Pickens
Winter semester, 2018, I was taking Surface Design on Textiles, a class in the Finlandia School of Art & Design with Phyllis Fredendall. We learned many techniques for embellishing fabric including dyeing, screen printing and stamping. One day in January, Paula Muise stopped by. Paula is a fashion designer from Nova Scotia, Canada, who often works with Marrimeko fabric, designed in Finland. She brought a large collection of these beautiful samples into the classroom, where we talked about color and patterns, and she admired the student work and encouraged us to keep experimenting. Later that evening, we went to the Finlandia Gallery at the Finnish American Heritage Center to see the work of her husband, Finnish-Canadian artist Onni Nordman.
His show was called SAUNA: DIVINE COMEDY, and it was a large set of daring colorful textural pieces based on Dante’s “Commedia”, the 14th century Italian narrative poem, placed in the Finnish Sauna. It was an amazing show. This experience inspired us to break from small ideas into adventurous ones which would be bright and bold.
Liv Aanrud taught a rug hooking class for the Finnish American Folk School at Finlandia. It was a wonderful class in which we learned a rug hooking technique that can be used to create interesting and fanciful rugs more suitable as wall hangings than for stepping on. And Wynne Mattila has taught two rug weaving classes at the Folk School as well. Wynne grew up in South Range, but currently lives in Minneapolis. Both Liv and Wynne complemented their classes with an exhibit at the Finlandia Gallery; giving students and the community a chance to explore deeper into their art form.
There have been so many remarkable exhibits and educational opportunities over the past decades at the Finlandia Gallery. Some of my favorites were the student, faculty and alumni shows. It was fun seeing the creativity and talent happening at the college, and finding out what the graduates have been doing since. So it was difficult to learn that the gallery will have to close. It was a tough decision that was made as a consequence of budget cuts. But true to the Sisu spirit of Gallery Director Carrie Flaspohler, the gallery is closing with a wonderful show and a grand reception.
I passed through the Finlandia Gallery on Oct. 22 when I attended the Celebration of Life for Deb Mann, and saw the final exhibit for the gallery, “Self-Revolving Line”, by Finnish artist Tuomas Korkalo. It is a series of abstract paintings composed of geometric shapes intermingling with each other. Korkalo said, “I like to create an illusion of space and movement on a two-dimensional surface by exploiting the relationship between the parts of the painting. The vanishing points and juxtapositions of colors create an illusion of dimensional space.”
Korkalo’s work is influenced by the Supremacist movement which began in Russia in the early 20th century. The goal was to create a pure form of art which rejected the representationalism found in traditional paintings of people, animals, and nature. Even the more modern movements like Cubism were representational of objects. Supermatist art attempts to move beyond that; employing fundamentals of geometry to depict feeling and movement. Korkalo is a graduate of the Imatra Art School, located in Southeastern Finland. His paintings have been displayed around the world in outdoor and indoor spaces.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., there will be a reception for Tuomas Korkalo. The artist will talk at 7:20, and following the reception there will be a celebration of the impact this wonderful gallery has had on the local community since it’s inception over thirty years ago. The reception and the celebration are free and open to the public.
Check out the late fall schedule at the Finnish American Folk School website, https://www.finlandia.edu/fahc/finnish-american-folk-school/. The connections made through the gallery over the years will continue to bring good regional teachers to the local area.
If you get a chance, stop by the Copper Country Community Art Center in Hancock to check out the Shaft exhibit, and vote for your favorite piece. The opening for that show will be on Nov. 25 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. It’s always fun to see the variety of depictions of that famous Copper Country Landmark and our Copper Mining history.
The first of our holiday sales, the Keweenaw Art Affair, will be Saturday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Houghton High School. Admission is free, and all proceeds from the vendor fees goes to support art programs in the local schools.