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Marja Lianko: From There to Here

Artwork by Marja LiankoHANCOCK, MI – The 21st Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series exhibit, “Marja Lianko: From There to Here,” will be featured at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from December 6, 2012, to January 12, 2013.

An opening reception for the exhibit will take place in coordination with Finlandia University’s annual Finnish Independence Day celebration on Thursday, December 6, at 6:30 p.m., at the Finnish American Heritage Center. Marja Lianko will give an artist talk during the event.  The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Artwork by Marja LiankoOn a wintry morning several decades ago, Finnish immigrant Marja Lianko arrived in New York City by ship following a stormy Atlantic Ocean crossing. “I remember that I had no inkling how my life was going to turn out,” Lianko reflects. “I was twenty-years-old with a head full of dreams and a new green card in my pocket.”

Lianko’s paintings chronicle her emigration journey, from childhood memories to the personal symbolisms of a new life discovered and fully-lived.  In an article in the Boston Globe, art critic and writer Cate McQuaid comments that, “(Lianko’s) paintings seem to represent a deeper truth, a kind of music accompanying her through life.”

Other influences on Lianko’s work are her travels within the U.S. and in Europe, her experiences as a new mother, balancing life and work in a new country, and her memories of Finland. “I see a map of my life with markers for time and change,” she notes.

“I see uplifting events, new discoveriesThe artist Marja Lianko, and visits to foreign lands. I also see trying times, obstructions, and sorrow, all of them creating a personal patchwork of intricate patterns … and Finland,” says Lianko, “always Finland, with its melancholic beauty, the birches, the pine trees, the somber songs of my childhood, appearing again and again.”

Lianko has worked in media including painting, silkscreen, monoprints, and mixed media sculpture.

The importance of color in her work has remained a constant. “My use of color has always been instinctive, influenced by what is around me,” says Lianko. “In Finland, the contrast is striking: the lack of color through the long, dark winter or the abundance of it in the short, but lovely summer. I remember yearning for color through the dark days; perhaps it is this yearning that, too, has had an influence on my artwork.”

Lianko studied at the Apollo School in Helsinki, Finland, before coming to the United States. She completed a bachelor of fine arts and a master of fine arts at Tufts University, Medford, Mass., and a master of arts at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass., where she taught from 1976 to 1999.  She also taught at Simmons College, Boston, from 1993 to 1998.

Lianko’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Finland, and Ireland.  Her work is included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass.; the DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Mass.; and Tufts University.

“Marja Lianko: From There to Here” will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery through January 12, 2013.

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., Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., or by appointment. The gallery will be closed from December 21, 2012, to January 2, 2013.

For additional information, please contact Carrie Flaspohler, director of the Finlandia University Gallery, at 906-87-7500 or

Photo Cutlines:

Photo 1:  Victory Garden #3, Acrylic and Mixed Media on Panel, 2011 

Photo 2:  Eeva, 2012, Birch, plaster, mixed media