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The Folk School at Midsummer

Finlandia University Gallery and the Finnish American Folk School present:

The Folk School at Midsummer

June 14 – September 2, 2022

Opening Reception: Wednesday, June 22nd, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Composer-improviser, sound and visual artist Sara Pajunen 

HANCOCK, MI  Finlandia University Gallery, in collaboration with the Finnish American Folk School will present, The Folk School at Midsummer, a group exhibit presenting the work of the folk school instructors and students and featuring the work of composer-improviser, sound and visual artist Sara Pajunen and textile artist Wynne Mattila.

The exhibit will be held at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC), Hancock from June 14  to September 2, 2022.

An opening reception for the artists will take place at the gallery, Wednesday, June 22nd, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. with presentations by Sara Pajunen and Dr. Hilary-Joy Virtanen beginning at 7:20 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public, masks are encouraged. Refreshments will be served.

Fire and Ice, Handwoven by Wynne Mattila

Folk school instructors Wynne Mattila, Anita Jain, Sara Pajunen, Phyllis Fredendall, Clare Zuraw, Karen Tembruell, Alice Margerum, Lindsey Heiden, Kenyon Hansen, and Liv Aanrud will have work in the exhibit.

Vulture-Rabbit by Lindsey Heiden

Folk School Instructor and Ceramic Artist Kenyon Hansen

Students exhibiting work include Lisa Wiitala, Laura Marquart, Sue Ellen Kingsley, John Gale, Nathan Ryckman, Sean H., Stephanie Carpenter, Mary Mills, Melissa Lewis, Miriam Pickens, Julie Badel, and Lynn Anderson.

Inkle woven bands by Sue Ellen Kingsley

Trained as a violinist and employing locally-responsive media ranging from field recordings to drone imagery, Sara Pajunen€™s work is motivated by interactions between her ancestral roots, American cultural histories, and connection to our environments through sound. Pajunen€™s interests also lie in blurring human perceptions and cultivating presence through listening, using sound to shift our relationships to our landscapes and accepted histories.

In 2018, Pajunen launched ‘Mine Songs,’ a long-term project that explores the altered landscape of the Mesabi Iron Range (her childhood and ancestral home) through sound and image.

Expanding the Mine Songs project to the Copper Country, Pajunen was commissioned by the Finnish American Folk School to create a new sound piece for the Juhannus Festival at midsummer. Inspired by the Copper Country and its history, Pajunen welcomed the opportunity to create new work for the festival and exhibition.

The  2015-16 Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year, Pajunen’s work with Finlandia University was supported by a grant from the American Scandinavian Foundation. Pajunen received music degrees in both the United States and Finland and holds a Master of Music in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory (Boston).

Textile artist Wynne Mattila wove her first rug in 1985 at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota and before it was finished, she knew she was a rug weaver for life.  Wynne’s goal is always to use color to its full potential to create a beautiful rug.

“I weave in what I call the “Finnish-Style” with new brightly-colored cotton fabric strips cut one-inch wide on 15-ply Finnish cotton warp sett at 5 ends per inch.  I work with fabrics designed for quilters.  My specialty is color blending using the alternating 3-shuttle technique.  The off-white warp I use becomes a blank canvas on which I am able to paint with colored fabrics€”the design of the rug is created solely by the arrangement of the weft strips.  I love this visual process in which each shot of fabric plays a part in the overall design.€

Mattila is inspired by a quote from Sami Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre, in Inari, Finland, “Materials provided by nature,  the source of Sami subsistence” formed the basis of Sami folk art. The unhurried lifestyle and patience that characterize people living in a natural economy guarantee fine workmanship.€

“I am the great granddaughter of a Sami reindeer herdsman,” says Mattila. “Many of my ideas come from the natural environment, I see something in nature every day that inspires me. I believe that finding the way to express your creativity feeds your spirit and enriches your life.”

Wynne has been teaching rug weaving for more than 20 years, focusing on good rug weaving techniques and the creative use of color.  In her upcoming book, “Warm the Room with Color, Weaving Finnish-Style Cotton Rugs,” Wynne will share her passion for rugs and describe her artistic and weaving processes.

The Folk School at Midsummer will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery through September 2, 2022.

The Finlandia University Gallery is located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock.  Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm. Please call 906-487-7500 or email for more information.