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19th Annual Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series

Bruce A. Niemi: Heavy Metal / Graceful Forms — Raskas Metalli / Sulavia Muotoja

HANCOCK, MI – The 19th Annual Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series, hosted by the Finlandia University Gallery from December 3, 2009, to January 3, 2010, features the work of Wisconsin sculptor Bruce A. Niemi in an exhibit titled, “Heavy Metal/Graceful Forms (Raskas Metalli / Sulavia Muotoja). The Finlandia University Gallery is located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

An opening reception for the artist will take place at the gallery Thursday, December 3, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., with an artist talk beginning at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.

At age 12, Bruce Niemi was introduced to welding by his father, a self-taught abstract sculptor and ornamental iron artist. Niemi was fascinated and his passion for sculpting began.

Niemi’s art, ranging from small pedestal pieces to larger wall and free standing sculptures, is characterized by an uplifting positive nature. “My faith in God, the power and beauty of nature, and the energy and balance of dance are the driving forces behind my art,” notes Niemi. “It would be safe to say if you studied my art you would know my heart.”

Niemi’s stainless steel and bronze sculptures create the illusion of movement and transform the abstract into visual statements waiting for the interpretation of the viewer.

“My purpose is to stimulate and exercise the mind of you, the viewer, as well as create a sculpture that compliments the environment that it shares,” says Niemi. “Aesthetics, balance, energy, harmony, meticulous craftsmanship, structural strength, durable materials, and public safety are all built into the piece.”

All these components are present in Niemi’s recent commission, a memorial for five students killed in 2008 on the campus of Neimi’s alma mater, Northern Illinois University. Niemi says it was a rewarding and humbling experience to be selected to create the memorial. Foremost in his thoughts while designing the sculpture was finding a way to help the parents of the five students heal.

His sculpture, titled Remembered, consists of five intertwining components that form the shape of a flame.

“I see hope. I see something pointing skyward. I see ascension. I see five elements in that sculpture,” says Michael P. Malone, vice president for university advancement at NIU. “Once you look at the interconnecting triangles, or flames, it really starts to add meaning to that site in a way that only art can.”

For 21 years Niemi has worked as a full time sculptor. He has created 28 large-scale public sculptures located across the United States, and has exhibited in numerous solo, group and juried exhibitions. His work is included in 20 corporate collections.

Niemi received a bachelor of fine art in sculpture at Northern Illinois University in 1981.

He will be on the Finlandia University campus December 1 to 3, 2009, working with art and design students.

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., Wednesday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., or by appointment.

The Finlandia University Gallery will be closed December 23, 2009, to January 3, 2010.

Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Pronunciation of Finnish words: Raskas Metalli / Sulavia Muotoja

RAHS-kahss MET-alee / SULL-ah vee ah MOO-oh-tow-ya