Finlandia U. artist exhibit goes virtual

“First Fruits” offering scarcity posing as truth/annunciation (2021) is shown. (Image from the Finlandia University Gallery via The Houghton Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — With soaring COVID numbers in the Copper Country, the Finlandia University Gallery in the Finnish American Heritage Center made the difficult decision to hold the opening reception for the 31st Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series Exhibit on Zoom. Rita, a longtime friend of the artist, zoomed in from Duluth, friends from Mexico and Canada joined the call, making this a truly international show.

Natalie Salminen Rude is the featured artist; her show is titled “in-ter-stice: (noun) a small intervening space.” Her work includes a series of compositions in oil, mixed media, gold leaf and encaustics. Encaustics is a technique using waxes, resins and pigments, producing both color and texture depending on the thickness of the wax. A thin layer of wax on paper will result in a translucent space, and wax can also be used to layer paper, fabric and other objects onto a surface.

Within this series, there are works on canvas and panels, paper vases holding dried flowers, and notably a large three dimensional piece suspended from a wooden structure. Natalie’s work is very textural, very delicate and most importantly, very intricate.

“Her desire is that viewers pay attention to and participate in their own inquiries and solutions. Through attention, dialogue and the art of breaking down the breakdowns, the re-humanizing of our world is still possible.”

There is an interesting play with light and dark; whereas many of the pieces have an ascending darkness to them, others are illuminated from the back. Lilies blossom throughout this exhibit; the lilies and the light represent the hope that natural regeneration brings to a world where, as her mentor Jacques Ellul has said, the worship of technology leads us away from the wisdom of our ancestors who were intimately connected to the natural world. One of my favorites from the show is a series of eight smaller pieces called “Lily Among Thorns” the background is a collage of dress-making patterns and striped tissue, and each has a lily in pigmented wax. There is darkness but also light in each piece, and though available for sale as individual works, the display looks really nice as a set.

One of the most interesting aspects of this show is that each piece is accompanied by a Haiku; a three lined poem form that originated in Japan. The Haiku is meant to be a “poetic assist”; to help initiate conversation about the work.

Although visiting the exhibit was a truly engaging experience, it was really interesting to see this exhibit on screen, because the work was inspired by Natalie’s desire to stay away from screens for the whole of 2020. She was astounded by the mental spaciousness that happened. In time, she found she was able to put her attention under her own care; meaning that she had agency over where and how her attention was directed. The whole show invites the question of how and where we direct our attention, an important thing to consider in this media-heavy world where it’s so easy to get pulled in many directions.

This exhibit is the 31st in the Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series, and part of Finlandia University’s 125th Anniversary. “in-ter-stice: (noun) a small intervening space” will run from Dec. 4, 2021- Feb. 4, 2022. The Finlandia Gallery is located at 435 Quincy St., in Hancock, and is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also view the recording of the Natalie Salminen Rude Zoom reception on the Gallery website at www.finlandia.edu/universitygallery/gallery-news-past-exhibits/.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock is calling for entries to the Art from the Kalevala – Animal Life exhibit. Art from the Kalevala is an annual exhibition taking place at the CCCAC in February 2022. The Kalevala is a 19th century work of poetry compiled by Elias Linnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology. It is regarded as the national epic poem of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature. The Kalevala is rich with imagery of animals including pike, swan, stag, bear, and many others. Artists are invited to delve into the Kalevala and find a reference to one of the many animals that are integral to the stories.

Artists may submit up to three works in any medium and are asked to provide the lines or passages from the Kalevala that inspired the work. No entry fees are required. Deliver submissions to CCCAC 126 Quincy St., Hancock between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Feb. 1-4, 2022.

For questions or to make special arrangements please contact Cynthia Cote at cynthia@coppercountryarts.com with “Kalevala” in the memo line. For more information about the exhibition visit the website www.coppercountryarts.com.


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