Finlandia University’s International School of Art and Design will present a faculty exhibit at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC) in Hancock from February 18 to March 19, 2021.
Recent works by full-time, adjunct and emeritus faculty representing a diverse range of media and concepts will be on display. Artists include Tom Adolphs, Jon Brookhouse, Carrie Flaspohler, Phyllis Fredendall, Terri Jo Frew, Gini Gesler, Lindsey Heiden, Joyce Koskenmaki, Gray Kotila, and Denise Vandeville.
A Zoom reception for the artists will take place on March 4 beginning at 7pm. Each artist will present a brief slide presentation of their work with a question and answer period following the presentation.
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Ceramics, fiber art, digital art, sculpture, drawing and painting are several of the media that will be represented in this exhibit.
“This year we have several new instructors exhibiting their work,” said Carrie Flaspohler, Gallery Director and Curator of the Finlandia University Gallery. “This exhibit is a great opportunity to share and celebrate the talents of our faculty with the community and students in the International School of Art & Design. Their creative works are an inspiration, bringing insight, inquiry and poetry into our lives.”
As an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, is influenced by an education in various traditional and digital art forms, as well as a PhD in Philosophy. He brings theories such as existentialism and phenomenology to life through art. Questions often addressed in his work are ones that appear fundamental to the human condition. Through artistic explorations, Adolphs hopes to shed light on our relationship to the world and its relationship to us.
“Though illustrating relatively mundane tasks, while teaching online during the COVID-19 pandemic, these are nonetheless the activities of my day,” said Adolphs. “If the drive is to explore something existential/phenomenological, then one place to start is by reflecting upon the first-person moments that most consume one’s time during this pandemic. Here is my little, rather privileged, story.”
Brookhouse, an Emeritus Professor of Ceramics and former Dean of the International School of Art & Design, is actively creating pots and currently resides in Tapiola, Michigan.
“My works on display are a continuation of a series of forms I’ve been working on for the past few years. They are about taking thrown forms apart and then using parts of those forms to embellish forms already thrown,” said Brookhouse. “In doing so, I hope to make the existing form and the attachments into what I think is a pleasing visual combination. I’d like to thank Kenyon Hansen and Lindsey Heiden for allowing me to use their studio for glazing and firing.”
Flaspohler has been the Curator and Gallery Director of Finlandia University Gallery for the past 19 years. She has spent hours in her painting studio since the beginning of COVID and has found that time both restorative and meditative.
“Why make art that feels hopeful when every day I wake to read the news, internalize the struggle and find the social fabric of our society stretched beyond recognition?” said Flaspohler. “Interestingly, my work grew more hopeful as the days of the pandemic raged on. Art became a way of soothing myself. As I spent time in my studio willing beauty into my art and life, each tick mark I made became a form of meditation. Imagined abundance became my reality with color, light, and hope accessible for a moment. It was a saving grace, it gave my mind a resting point, it numbed my anxiety and helped me anticipate a future time when some of our collective hardships were behind us, or at least beginning to recede.
“My art uses natural imagery as a metaphor for the resilience of humans to rise to the challenges and adversities of simply being human. I see grace in those who bring greater empathy and compassion to their relationships with others. I admire the dignity of those who are change makers and advocates for justice and equality. I use butterflies as a metaphor for that grace and dignity, for resilience and the ephemeral nature of life. I incorporate tick marks to represent the passage of time as we wait and strive and work. Nature is literally and symbolically the foundation upon which all life is built. My art is a love letter to experiencing life in all its sensual and emotional complexity, eliciting reflection, emotion, and ultimately a sense of hope.”
Emeritus Fiber and Fashion professor Phyllis Fredendall has been working in her studio on the shore of Lake Superior.
“In the downs and ups of January 2021, I found my way to concentric circles as a vehicle for expression. First, the process of needle felting offered comfort and a satisfying physical outlet,” said Fredendall. “Then the transformation of wool fleece in the wet felting process reinvigorated me, confirming my affection for this long practiced method. The psychological aspects of color phenomena, the magic of simultaneous contrast and after-image are my food, especially this time of year.
“Following the felt making work, I returned to my first learned fiber process. My grandmother taught me to crochet, working with a hook and yarn when I was a teenager. These concentric circles are bound together, each a unique individual joined in a chorus. Singing together is better than singing alone.”
Terri Jo Frew
Instructor of Drawing Terri Jo Frew explores the brevity of life in her work.
“Through the symbol of the skull, I present two drawings intended to lead the viewer to consider the nature of life and its cycles,” said Frew. “Often feared, these artworks pay homage to death and the renewal that it brings.”
Memento Mori is not only a Latin phrase meaning “remember that you too shall die”, it is also a genre of artwork that reached its height of popularity during the seventeenth century.
“Working in the historical tradition of the Memento Mori, A Memento Mori for 2020 is simultaneously a commemoration of and a mourning for the unprecedented global events of roughly the past year,” said Frew. “The repeating skull motif is a stark and obvious reminder of the lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond this, it is a stylized death of outdated paradigms and thought patterns that no longer serve. The addition of the gilded background connects this piece to the tradition of Christian icons: figures of divine power and capability to be revered and respected but also feared. The shadow cast by COVID-19 is inescapable- perhaps a golden tribute might appease its wrath?”
An alumna of the International School of Art & Design, Gesler (’13, Fiber and Fashion) is also the Program Coordinator of the art program and an admissions officer at the university.
“Through my work, I seek to gain moments to myself. To step away from the responsibilities of adulthood,” said Gesler. “It is about the process of making, the time spent dedicated to making, more than the end result. The result is the sum of each individual moment I have gifted myself. The time I allowed the process of making to take priority over the other responsibilities I have filled my life with. It is a visual reflection of the time I have for me.”
Heiden, an Adjunct Professor of Ceramics, is a studio artist living and working in Dollar Bay. Her work in this exhibit is an exploration of animals that she sees on a daily basis, or animals that hold a sense of nostalgia for her. She fuses these animals with functional forms, in this case, flower vases.
Emeritus professor Joyce Koskenmaki’s use of abstraction as a means of expression represents a return to one style of art that she was originally trained in.
“After years of painting only animals and trees I needed to revert to my original grounding,” said Koskenmaki. “These are the structures I build on for the rest of my work. I start with a line and listen to it tell me where the next line should be and then I build on that. Usually I have no preconceived ideas, the work becomes a way to access my subconscious. The relationships of shapes that evolve are expressions of my reality and often relate to recurring dreams, not as images but as feelings.
“These paintings were mostly done during the pandemic and have provided stability when political situations were difficult. They make me happy. I call them meditations because the doing of them is a meditative process. Hopefully people who view them will find some kind of serenity in them as well.”
Gray Kotila (’10, Fiber & Fashion) is an Instructor of Studio Practices (Fiber & Fashion) and has been focusing on comics and illustration.
“I make comics because I enjoy it, but also because stories matter,” said Kotila. “There have been times when stories, regardless of medium, got me through rough periods in my life. I’ve always been compelled to tell stories, first through comics, then fashion performances, and now again through comics.
“Stories can entertain, educate, comfort, and more. I create worlds where being queer and trans is a non-issue, because I want to show that it is possible. I have always wanted to see LGBTQIA+ characters in genre fiction having adventures like anyone else, and having fluffy sweet romances. I often make art that is calming and reassuring, even if my characters find themselves in perilous situations. In the course of the pandemic I have found myself emphasizing this calm reassurance even more, making art that is about finding small joys in the moment, or knowing that we can make things better.”
“Sometimes simply existing, let alone finding joy, as a queer trans person is resistance. It’s sad that having pronouns and identity respected often feels like the most fantastical elements of my fantasy work, but I know it’s possible to get there,” Kotila says. “I will take joy in what I do when I can. I hope my stories are fun. And I hope they help someone feel seen.”
Denise Vandeville, Dean of the International School of Art & Design, has been leading the art department through the myriad of changes brought on by the pandemic. Her artwork in this show is an examination of the most beautiful image she has seen since 2021 began.
“Art is the caregiver to humanity,” says Vandeville. “She reflects back to us our many selves…She reminds us of joy in the world…She helps us grieve.”
“Finlandia University International School of Art and Design 2021 Faculty Exhibit” is on display at the Finlandia University Gallery through March 19th.
The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Please call 906-487-7500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment to view the exhibit.
Learn more about this exhibit, other exhibits and the Finlandia University Gallery in general by visiting finlandia.edu/