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25th annual Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series Exhibition

Eric Hongisto: Cangiantismo

  • December 3, 2015 to January 16, 2016
  • Opening Reception: Thursday, December 3, 7 - 8:30 pm.
  • Artist talk beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The 25th Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series will feature work by Eric Hongisto. Cangiantismo, a mixed media exhibit is featured at the Finlandia University Gallery, from December 3, 2015 through January 16, 2016.

An opening reception for the exhibit will take place at the gallery on Thursday, December 3, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with an artist talk by Hongisto beginning at 7:30 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Since its inception in 1991, the Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series, the only art exhibition of its kind in the U.S., showcases the work of prominent Finnish American artists and designers, and has meaningfully advanced the appreciation of fine art and design within the Finnish American community.

“I wanted to lift up Finnish American art and especially recognize contemporary Finnish American artists,” former Finlandia University president Dr. Robert Ubbelohde said, reflecting on beginning the artist series. “I was also concerned that we promote programs to lift up the Finnish and Finnish American heritage of the institution in a way that people of various ages - but especially our students - might find appealing.”

Ubbelohde also thought the artist series would be an important resource for the International School of Art & Design. “I think that having artists and their work on campus provided role models for younger Finnish Americans, both our students and area young people. Their visits to campus also became important aspects of inspiration and encouragement for students, which gave me great joy,” said Ubbelohde. “The role of art in Finnish and Finnish American history has always interested and intrigued me as it was part of lifting up the identity of Finns leading eventually to Finnish independence in Finland.”

Hongisto, a Finnish American artist based in San Francisco, California epitomizes the qualities of an artist that Dr. Ubbelohde sought for the series. Graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1997 from Maine College and a Master of Fine Art in Painting and Drawing from Yale University in 1999, Hongisto continues to achieve both a meaningful and productive art career. His artwork has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the United States and he has received numerous grants and fellowships, including both a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. He is currently a professor of art at the University of San Francisco.

“Art can be an undefined space,” said Hongisto. “It can be a theatrical experience.”

Using existing architectural walls and floors as a painting surface, Hongisto’s murals and installations reveal to the viewer that artwork is not necessarily an object. Combining thinking with intuition, feeling and sensation, Hongisto explores color theory while mixing in a bit of his interest in sport rock climbing, farming, skateboarding and climate change.

“As an artist, my highest concern is process,” said Hongisto. “How changes can be represented, seen and interpreted. I am fascinated with the understanding that art will be remembered differently at a later period...art changes as we change.”

Earlier work was influenced by science, specifically physics and biology with Hongisto exploring how personality archetypes play a role in his art making decisions.

“I utilize the different functions of personality during the early stages of a painting, sculpture or an installation,” said Hongisto. “How the work resolves itself is more important than why. Can color and form act as verbs, nouns and adjectives at the same time?”

Eric Hongisto will work with students from Finlandia University’s International School of Art & Design students during his campus visit.

Cangiantismo will be on display December 3, 2015 through January 16, 2016.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy St., downtown Hancock. For more information, contact the Finlandia University Gallery at (906) 487-7500.

Photo cutlines:

  • Top: The artist Eric Hongisto
  • Second: Cangiantismo, Acrylic on wood, 1/4" x 5' x 9', 2015
  • Third: Graphix, Acrylic on skateboard decks, 9" x 32" each, 2015
  • Fourth: 8x8x2, Acrylic on paper, 16" x 16", 2015