Moved by Nature, an exhibit of contemporary artists incorporating Finnish folktales and mythologies will feature the work of three Finnish artists; Riitta Ikonen, Taina Kontio and Satu Miettinen. Also on display will be six short films by Finnish filmmakers, Mari Ljokkoi, Leena Lehti, Mia Rantavaara and Sanni Hujanen, Jukka Silokunnas, Elsa Trzaska and Riitta Järvelä .
An opening reception for the public will take place at the gallery on Thursday, September 21, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with a panel discussion between Finlandia University International School of Art & Design students and faculty beginning at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Ikonen, Kontio and Miettinen will create an installation combining the themes of ancient Finnish and Kalevala mythologies that often personalize entities of nature and the stream of life and water. This exhibition will celebrate the Finnish landscape, mythology.
Riitta Ikonen, along with artistic collaborator Karoline Hjorth exhibited at the gallery in 2015 and Ikonen returns to Finlandia with new photographic work produced in Finland with photographer, Annie Collinge. Ikonen’s work threads together memory, myth, imagination and an anthropomorphic view of the natural world. Originally from the deep eastern Finnish forests, her exploration of the interaction between people and their natural environment materializes as performance, video, wearable sculptures and photographic portraiture.
“For the series Eyes as Big as Plates, Ikonen and Hjorth were curious and on a mission to find out what kind of connection the Finnish had with their rocks, fjords and hills,” they explained in an email to The Huffington Post. “And [we were] especially keen on looking at the folktales where nature or natural phenomenons were personified. Folktales often made complex natural and sociological issues understandable and accessible, with phenomena taking on forms and characteristics that even a mere mortal could have a dialogue with.”
For these latest works, Ikonen pays homage to Finland’s oldest residents: the mosses, rocks, and fungi. Along the Tuonela river banks, she reawakens the fossil memory of a nation – the memory lane of what once was, and what now lives as stalagmites in the minds of many who haven’t stepped on familiar soil for a long while. To celebrate Finland’s centennial, the artist joins the undergrowth to push through the earth’s crust.
Reveries stand out as a survival strategy while investigating the various ways humanity occupies and interprets its environment. A hundred years is a drop in the ocean in evolutionary terms, but a serious matter of existence for humans. Posing as a Rapakivi granite, Ikonen leaps 1600 million years into Finland’s past to witness the birth of the pink bedrock and to zoom out from our understanding of time.
Taina Kontio will screen two videos from her RIVERNESS saga; My Riverness and My Mythology. Both videos tell modern stories through personal stories and videos about water with visual references to old Finnish myths. Kontio spent 2001-03 living in Hancock and serving as an Artist in Residency at Finlandia University. During that period she developed a trademark style of combining stories and videos to create videopoetry. Her videopoetry is award winning, having won two awards at film festivals in NewYork and Toronto.
“I developed videopoetry during my years in US, and this is a tribute to those times,
which were both challenging but also very fruitful for me,” says Kontio. “The solitude and majestic landscape of Upper Peninsula served both as a great inspiration for my artisty, but also at the same time my mother in Finland fell ill and passed away.”
My Riverness pays tribute Kontio’s mother and the Kiminki River. It also references Ilmatar, the Finnish goddess of the air and creator of the world in Finland’s epic poem the Kalevala. “My mom created me from the river,” says Kontio. “She took me to her swims already when I was four. By the age of ten, I already had my own boat that I took to the river everyday, no rapid or current would stop me, I knew them all. Our playground was the river, most of the stories were about the river, people living on its banks, all the seasons were dictated by its flow.”
My Mythology is about a friend of Kontios and also references the Kalevala with Lemminkäinen and her mother on the Tuonela Tiver. The Tuonela River is the river of passing in old Finnish mythology.
Satu Miettinen will display artwork called “Piece of Heaven, Piece of Earth”. It is a collaborative artwork where the centerpiece is digitally printed batiste cotton textile. Images in this textile represent the melting Kemijoki River in spring and clouds in the Rovaniemi sky.
“While working with this artwork I’ve been thinking about the Eco-centered system of our ancestors. Here in Finland, we still have our ways of listening to the nature as we ask “Ahti”, our ancient “God of Waters” to bless us with fishing.,” says Miettinen. “In similar ways many indigenous peoples still respect and ask for permission to enjoy the plenitudes of nature. Our system has become human-centered which is of course better that placing industries in the center. Yet, some of us are asking if we should rather be just one part of the system, not in the control of it.”
The six films also on display come to the gallery from collaborator Common Strands, Minneapolis, Minnesota. These films explore the themes of gender roles, personal and Finnish history, entropy, time and change, inner and outer worlds and one woman’s pursuit of luxury…involving a sharpie marker!
Riitta Ikonen, Taina Kontio and Satu Miettinen: Moved By Nature, along with the five Finnish short films will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from September 21 to October 14, 2017.
The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 906-487-7500.Tags: Elsa Trzaska, Jukka Silokunnas, Leena Lehti, Mari Ljokkoi, Mia Rantavaara, Riitta Ikonen, Riitta Järvelä, Sanni Hujanen, Satu Miettinen, Taina Kontio