Two of my paintings, "Sami American" and "Sami Reindeer," will be shown in Highland Park, Illinois at The Art Center, as part of what the organizers describe as "two extraordinary exhibits juxtaposing Contemporary Native American Art and Journey to America. The exhibit will voice two individual stories side by side, to create a dialogue in the context of the native population, each personal history and heritage affecting the true American Story. We hope to shed light on the America where diversity, with the differences of each journey at the core, shape our view and vision of how we look at immigration in America."
My work explores the complexities of ancestral identity and how it threads together the past, present and future. How can I relate to something that was never mine because it was never passed down in the way of traditions? My portraits contemplate the loss of Sami culture through oppression and my family’s emigration from Finland, as well as, the significance in reconnecting to the land and customs of my ancestors. My pieces are endeavors in understanding what it means to be Sami American.
In January, I set out to complete 100 self portraits. I required that all my work be the same size (17x14 inch gessoed paper), created from life, and completed in 15 minutes or less. The small size made it possible to "finish" the work, and my self imposed 15 minute time limit prevented fussing, yielding a direct and immediate result.
I began the project working with oil, then transitioned to pastels, and then moved around between graphite, sharpie, charcoal and gouache. Initially, my portraits were very much a traditional 3/4 profile and explored color, but I challenged myself to play around with scale, perspective, line etc. Eventually I found my way to graphite and created some very interesting contour line portraits.
I learned quickly that my time restraint prevented me from having any exacting detail, and instead, forced a very raw, in the moment, emotional result. Throughout the process, my entire catalog of feelings and experiences were accessible. Initially, I saw each portrait as a different person, but then recognized that each work is a reflection of how I felt in those 15 minutes. These faces are evidence that our sense of self and identities are constantly shifting and evolving, however big or small. The complexities of which aspects of ourselves take the drivers seat to lead, push or pull us forward at any given time is fascinating.
I am inspired to add my voice and view to the subjects of portraiture and identity because the female perspective is largely missing from the sum of our history as told through art.
Due to the devastating fires in our community,
I created this space to showcase my past work, chronicle my current projects, and share my inspiration.