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29th Annual Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series Exhibition Lisa Autio: A Walk Along the Shore

November 20, 2019

The Finlandia University Gallery presents the 29th Annual Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series Exhibition featuring the artwork of Lisa Autio.

A Walk Along the Shore, an exhibit of mixed media sculptural wall pieces will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC), Hancock from December 5, 2019 to January 11, 2020.

An opening reception for the artist will take place at the gallery, Thursday, December 5th, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. with an artist talk beginning at 7:20 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Autio is a native of Montana, with Finnish grandparents immigrating through Ellis Island to work in the mines and boarding houses in Butte in the 1920s. Her maternal relatives were German and Irish and moved into Montana in the 1860s up the Missouri River, before the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Autio comes from a long line of artists. Her family is well known in Montana as influential and ground breaking artists.  Her father, Rudy Autio was a well-known ceramic artist who, along with his wife Lela and Peter Voulkos, founded the Archie Bray Ceramics Foundation in Helena, Montana. Her mother Lela Autio was a modern artist who created abstract soft sculptures as well as sculptural assemblages, ceramics and paintings. Autio’s brother Chris and her daughter Laurel Fletcher are both artists as well.

Lisa Autio’s exhibit, A Walk Along the Shore will feature mixed media sculptural pieces that echo the river and lake beds, rocks and fossils of her Montanan home. Her colorful compositions are a tribute to the wilderness of her home state.

“Finns like to live in places that are rural or surrounded by nature, which is limitless in source material for art,” says Autio. “I think we are not far separated from an animist belief that everything in nature is alive, even the rocks, water and even the weather. To live in Montana is to be surrounded by nature in all ways — it’s hot summers, cold winters, big rivers and mountains, and long uninterrupted distances that aren’t much different than when Lewis and Clark came through in 1805-6.

“I’ve always had an interest in the geology of the West and Montana. Central Montana was once part of an inland sea. It is full of fossils from the creatures and plants that were here 70 million years ago. I decided this year that I would make my own ‘fossils’ from clay and experimented with crinoids, brittle stars and ammonites, which I thought the most interesting design ideas,”

She combines shoreline rocks with fossils in compositions that play with reality, combining elements that would not be found together geologically.

Autio has a BA in art from University of Washington and a Master of Library and Information Science from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has exhibited at the Holter Museum of Art and Turman/Larison Contemporary in Helena.

She has also curated numerous exhibits including an exhibit for Rudy Autio and Harold Balazs in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and an exhibit of  Rudy and Lela Autio’s work in Bozeman, Montana.  She also curated a show for her late husband Peter Fletcher, who taught painting, drawing and foundations at Viterbo University in the 1980s through 2001.

The Finlandia University Gallery is located 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., Thursday 8:00 a.m.- 7:00 p.m., and Saturday 12:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. or by appointment. For more information call 906-487-7500.

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