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 Finnish Textiles: Honoring Tradition

Wynne Matilda
“Solar Flame” cotton rug
Finnish kalalnka (cotton seine twine) 58 x 27”
Susan Saari Karasti
Winter and summer, 1986
Takkana (double weave), cotton with linen warp,
52 x 29”
Joyce Seppala
Theatre Robe
Tapestry with pictographs
Tweed Museum of Art Welcomes FinnFest 2008
Finnish and Sami-inspired Textile Exhibit
The exhibit runs from July 15, 2008 – September 1, 2008.

UMD's Tweed Museum of Art presents an exhibition, “Honoring Tradition: Finnish and Sami-inspired Textiles,” just in time for the arrival of thousands of Finns to Duluth.

Visitors will experience textile art that springs from a rich tradition, still very much alive today, of handmade textiles by artisans who honor and are inspired by Finnish and Sami techniques and designs. Gathering together 17 textile artists from the upper Midwest and Canada, the exhibition compares and contrasts woven rugs, wall hangings, felted works, lace, and clothing design. Each work was selected for elegance of design as well as adherence to traditional forms and techniques, underscoring the importance of simplicity, clear design, and high levels of craft found in Scandinavian design.

Contemporary artists included in the exhibition are: Mary Erickson (Mt. Iron, MN); Paivi Homola (Eveleth, MN); Delores Johnson, lent by Gerry Kangas; Irene Johnson (Ely, MN); Susan Johnson (Viroqua, WI); Laurie Jacobi (Minneapolis, MN); Susan Saari Karasti (Ely, MN), lent by Aurora Public Library; Edythe Karlstrand (Eveleth, MN); Pirkko Karvonen (Edmonton, Alberta); Karen Kiviluoma (Makinen, MN); Ruth Koski (MN); Karen Lamppa (Britt, MN); Annika Martilla (Frederick, SD); Wynne Mattila (Minneapolis, MN); Joyce Seppala (Thunder Bay, Ontario); Carol Sperling (Eveleth, MN); and Mary Wovcha (Duluth, MN).

Many of the works are variants on traditional functional textiles made centuries ago by Finnish and Sami people. Ryijy rugs, for example, are now viewed as decorative wall hangings, but were once used as protective blankets for fishermen who slept overnight in their boats. Contemporary raanu weavings are wall hung artworks which usually interpret aspects of nature and the seasons, but they had their start as coverings on the traditional tent-like dwellings of the Sami (native Finnish) people.

Wynne Matilda, detail:
“Solar Flame” cotton rug
Finnish kalalnka (cotton seine twine) 58 x 27”
Joyce Seppala, detail:
Theatre Robe
Tapestry with pictographs

A loom, on loan from the Carlton County Historical Society, is included in the exhibition. The Finnish rug loom was built in the 1890s by Mike Niemala. Textiles by Finnish artisans are on loan from local collections, including lace from Rauma, Finland’s lace-making district, a rose-design Ryijy rug, and a runner from Finland’s Karelian region, among others. The exhibition is organized by Marlene Wisuri, author and historian, co-curated with Mary Erickson, textile artist and member of the Range Fiber Arts Guild, and Peter Spooner of the Tweed Museum of Art.

Tweed Museum of Art Special Events: A Gallery Hop reception will be held from 3 - 6 pm on both Thursday, July 24 and Friday, July 25 at the Tweed. The Gallery Hop is a progressive reception at all Duluth art venues featuring FinnFest exhibitions. A reception and gallery talk will be presented by Mary Erickson from 2 - 4 pm on Saturday, July 26 at the Tweed. Erickson will also give a loom demonstration. The exhibit runs from July 15, 2008 – September 1, 2008.

Tweed Museum of Art, 1201 Ordean Court, Duluth
Free admission. Hours: Tue.- Thur 9 - am - 6 pm, Fri 9 am - 5 pm, Sat 1 - 5 pm, Sun 1 - 5 pm.

FinnFest 2008
Welcomes Everyone

FinnFest 2008, themed “Sharing the Spirit of Finland,” will run July 23-27, 2008, at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC) and other locations around town -- including some at UMD. It’s the first FinnFest in Duluth since 1992, when UMD hosted the festival.


Opening Ceremony
Wednesday July 23, 7 pm, DECC Auditorium, doors open at 6 pm. A joyous celebration of music, dance, poetry – no charge or ticket required

Tara Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland
Honorary Degree Ceremony: Friday July 25, 10 am, DECC Arena. Pick up a free ticket at the FinnFest Registration Desk, DECC; or at UMD Kirby Desk

Maestro Osmo Vänskä & the Minnesota Orchestra
Friday July 25, 7:30 pm. DECC Auditorium. $35.00, open seating, doors open at 6:30 pm
Tickets online, Electric Fetus downtown, FinnFest Registration Desk, at the door or UMD Kirby desk

Fashion Show and Luncheon at UMD
Saturday July 26, 12 noon, Kirby Student Center Ballroom. European style luncheon and contemporary Scandinavian fashions $30.00, advance tickets online; or UMD Kirby desk: deadline July 15.

Tori (Market Place)
The market features150 booths with art, jewelry, FinnFest souvenirs, other specialty items for sale, plus music! $5 entry, or registration badge, or Day Pass

AND MORE: over 300 lectures, dances, concerts, art, tours, exhibitions, Finnish food, reindeer, films, music, bird-watching with a Finn, and more!

General festival information is available at

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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