Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Videos, Photos: Finlandia celebrates Finnish Independence, Finnish American art

By Michele Bourdieu

At the opening of Finlandia University's Finnish Independence Day celebration on Dec. 6, 2012, Dan Maki, Finlandia University professor of history and Finnish culture, leads the audience in singing the Finnish national anthem, "Maamme" (Our Land), while members of the Kivajat Dancers present the flags of Finland and the United States. The event was held in the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- A large crowd filled the Finnish American Heritage Center on Dec. 6, 2012, to celebrate Finnish Independence Day with music, dance, Finnish poetry, art and holiday refreshments.

The occasion was also the opening of this year’s Finnish American Contemporary Artist exhibition in the Center's Finlandia University Gallery. The visiting artist, Marja Lianko, gave a presentation on her art and spoke with visitors to her exhibit in the Gallery at the end of the celebration.

In the Finlandia University Gallery artist Phyllis Fredendall, left, Finlandia University professor of fiber art, visits with artist Marja Lianko, whose exhibit opened in conjunction with the Finnish Independence Day celebration Dec. 6, 2012. The exhibit, "Marja Lianko: From There to Here," is on display at the Finlandia University Gallery through January 12, 2013.

The Kivajat Dancers, a local youth group of dancers who have also performed in Finland,  kicked off the celebration with some lively Finnish folk dances that delighted the audience.

The Kivajat Dancers, a youth group founded and directed by Kay Seppala, perform Finnish folk dances at the Finnish Independence Day celebration on Dec. 6, 2012, in the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Next in the program, Kaisa Mäenpää of Helsinki, a visiting Finnish journalist for the Finnish American Reporter, and five students from Hannu Leppänen's beginning Finnish class at Finlandia University read excerpts from poetry by Finnish poet and journalist Eino Leino.

Visiting journalist Kaisa Mäenpää of Helsinki reads an excerpt from "Nocturne," by Finnish poet and journalist Eino Leino, and five students from Hannu Leppänen's beginning Finnish class at Finlandia University read excerpts from Leino's poem "Minä." The students, reading after Mäenpää, are (in order) Kayla Olson, Tomoyuki Ishizuka, Brenna Thompson, Retti Waara and Neal Simons.

Following the poetry reading, Hilary Virtanen, Finnish American Heritage Center public programming coordinator, announced the 2013 Hankooki Heikki award winner, Dan Maki, longtime Finlandia University professor of history and Finnish culture.

Each year, the Finnish Theme Committee in Hancock selects one person whose work toward preserving and promoting Finnish culture in the area goes above and beyond "normal" efforts. That person is  "Hankooki Heikki" and presides over the Heikinpäivä Mid-Winter Festival, wearing the crown and robe that come with the honor.

Dan Maki, Finlandia University professor of history and Finnish culture, accepts the 2013 Hankooki Heikki award from Hilary Virtanen, Finnish American Heritage Center public programming coordinator, and agrees to reign over the Heikinpäivä Mid-Winter Festival, set for Jan. 26, 2013, in Hancock.

To celebrate the opening of this year’s Finnish American Contemporary Artist exhibition, visiting artist Marja Lianko presented a slide show of her work and spoke about her childhood in Finland, the influence of Finnish memories on her art, her immigration to the United States and her new work now on exhibit in the Finlandia University Gallery.

Carrie Flaspohler, Finlandia University Gallery director, introduces Finnish-American artist Marja Lianko, who was born in Finland and now lives in Massachusetts. With a slide show of her work in the background, Lianko speaks about her childhood in Finland, her immigration to the United States, and influences on her art.

Finnish American artist Marja Lianko talks about her work, some of which is on exhibit in the Finlandia Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center. This is the second part of her talk on Dec. 6, 2012, during the Finnish Independence Day celebration.

"Leaving," 2012, by Marja Lianko. Birch, plaster, and mixed media.

The Independence Day celebration concluded with the singing of a patriotic Finnish song and refreshments.

Dan Maki sings "Kotimaani ompi Suomi" (Finland is my Homeland), a patriotic Finnish song, accompanied by pianist Dave Bezotte. Some members of the audience join in singing.

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