Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Finlandia to celebrate Finnish Independence Day, Finnish American Art exhibit Dec. 1

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC), Hancock, will host its 94th annual Finnish Independence Day celebration beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1. The event is free and open to the public.

This year’s Finnish Independence Day celebration is presented in conjunction with an opening reception for the Finlandia University Gallery Contemporary Finnish-American Artist Series 20th Year Retrospective Exhibition.

Eric Aho, First February Night, 2009. Oil on linen, 24 x 22 inches. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

At the event, honored guest Anneli Halonen, cultural counselor of the Embassy of Finland, Washington, D.C., will present a talk titled, "Cultural Identity and Finnish Art." Several artists whose work is featured in the Retrospective exhibit will speak about the influence of their Finnish American heritage on their artwork.

The Finnish Independence Day program will also include musical performances, announcement of the 2012 Hankooki Heikki awardee, and refreshments, followed by a reception and gallery viewing.

Bruce Niemi, Protected. Bronze, 2005, 15" x 21" x 12."

Artwork by each of the 19 artists featured in the annual Finlandia University Gallery Finnish-American Artists Series exhibit will be on display. (A 10-year retrospective exhibit was held in 2002.)

Artists exhibiting work are Tarmo Watia (series artist in 1991), Joyce Koskenmaki (1992), Kathleen Oettinger (1993), Peder Kitti (1994), Yeshe Linda Helander (1995), Gerald Immonen (1996), Elsa Bekkala (1997), Marlene Ekola Gerberick (1998), Rudy Autio (1999), Gladys Koski Holmes (2000), Arno Rafael Minkkinen (2001), Eric Aho (2003), Petri Flint (2004), Vaino Kola (2005), David Salmela (2006), John Lundeen (2007), Desiree Koslin (2008), Bruce A. Niemi (2009), Dina Kantor (2010).

Rudy Autio, Twisted Tree. Digital Print of Acrylic Painting, 1997. Collection of Finlandia University.

"Inspiration found in their ancestry often plays a strong role in the work of these Finnish-American artists," says Carrie Flaspohler, director of the Finlandia University Gallery. "Some draw from stories of Finland heard in their youth, while others incorporate life lessons from their immigrant grandparents. Some summon the strong connection to nature so prominent in Finland, and others are influenced by the strength of contemporary Finnish art and culture."

Finlandia University Gallery has published a 48-page exhibition catalog that includes full-color reproductions of each of the artworks included in the Retrospective exhibit, along with biographical information about each artist. The catalog will be available for purchase at the reception/Independence Day Celebration and at North Wind Books.

The exhibition and exhibition catalog are supported in part by Finlandia Foundation® National, Finn Spark, Inc.; Patricia Van Pelt; and a gift in memory of The Hon. Dr. Gloria Jackson.

The Finnish American Heritage Center is located on the campus of Finlandia University at 435 Quincy Street, Hancock.

For more information, contact Hilary Virtanen, FAHC programming coordinator, at 906-487-7505.

"20 years of Contemporary Finnish-American Art" is on display at the Finlandia University Gallery through Jan. 14th, 2012. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment.

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