Nordic Northwest hosts historical, archival and fine art exhibitions in our Gallery Hall.
Browse our archives for information on past exhibitions and events!
Tattoo: Identity Through Ink
April 1 - July 1, 2023
For more than 5,000 years, tattoos have been used to document the history of humanity one painful mark at a time. Spanning cultures and continents, tattooing has adorned European nobility and Native Americans, celebrities and Scandinavian sailors, punks and presidents, and seemingly everyone else in between. Today, tattoos have never been more popular. Tattoos are so much more than decoration. Tattoos are a powerful visual language of the skin, and, like texts, they permanently record memories, life stories, and personal achievements.
Tattoo: Identity Through Ink tells the story of tattoos and the people who have them. We’ll explore the ways individual and group identities are formed, reinforced, and celebrated through tattoos. Of course, there is a Scandinavian connection–with celebrated artists like Norwegian Johan Frederik Knudsen and Norwegian-American Amund Dietzel, the question of whether or not Vikings had tattoos, and the rise of a whole modern Neo-Nordic style of tattooing. But the exhibition also allows us to explore more deeply the traditions of body ornamentation in other cultures and our connections to them.
The exhibit is curated by renowned anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak. Krutak is a Research Associate at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has authored four books on the subject of indigenous body modification and produced and hosted the Discovery Channel series Tattoo Hunter. In this exhibition, Krutak shares his ongoing journey to understand how ancient and more contemporary tattoos “make” the people who wear them.
This traveling exhibit is organized by Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School and made possible by the generous support of Jon and Mary Hart.
Threads | Þræðir
Intertwined in Iceland: Textiles and Book Arts
July 8 - November 5, 2023
Books and textiles are the two forms of artistic expression that have the longest history and tradition in Iceland, but it is rare that books and textiles are intertwined.
This exhibition showcases artists’ books and textile pieces by Icelandic artists and visiting artists who have been inspired by the country’s landscapes, people, language and textile traditions. The works in this exhibition are connected through stitching, weaving, knotting, tying, binding, pattern and storyline. The artists have found parallel lives in each other, unintentionally approaching art and life in similar fashions across oceans and between generations.
Threads joins together visual arts, design and craft, with the works referring to textile techniques such as weaving, embroidery and natural dyeing, as well as the Icelandic landscape, language, and the history and culture of women in the Nordic country.
There is an Icelandic saying: “Glöggt er gests augað – the guest has a clear eye.” By juxtaposing the work of the Icelandic artists with that of artists visiting the country, this exhibition not only presents an Icelandic view but reflects on how an outsider's perspective can contribute to an understanding of landscape and culture.
Featured images from Anne Greenwood, Cornelia Theimer Gardella, and Lyla Rowen.
About the Artists:
Lyla Rowen works in textiles and clay ranging from functional craft to conceptual art. She is a 2013 PSU graduate, worked as fabricator at The Portland Garment Factory, and is recipient of a 2021 Oregon Arts Commission grant.
Loo Bain is a multimedia artist investigating ideas of history, material, earth science, and self. She has shown nationally in galleries, acquired private commissions, participated in artist residencies, and received artist grants including from Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the Hallie Ford Foundation.
Anne Greenwood-Rioseco is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores themes of time, spirituality and the transcendent genius of the natural world. The Oregon Arts Commission, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the Hallie Ford Foundation have all financially supported her projects.
Ingiríður Óðinsdóttir works with visual art, book art and textile design. She studied at The Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts. Ingiríður has been active as a Visual Artist and designer since she graduated. Ingiríður has participated in numerous joint exhibitions in Iceland, Finland, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Belgium and USA. She seeks inspiration from nature and her surroundings.
Áslaug Jónsdóttir is an author of children’s books and a book artist. She studied visual arts in Reykjavik and Copenhagen and graduated as illustrator and graphic designer. Her children’s books have been published in many languages and she has received numerous awards for her works. In her artist books she works with poetry, photographic images and sculptural papercuts.
Sigurborg Stefánsdóttir is a visual artist working mainly with artist-books and paintings. She graduated from Copenhagen, Danmarks design school, now DAKA 1987. Since then she has focused on teaching and doing her own art. Sigurborg has held private exhibitions approximately every other year and taken part in multiple co exhibitions worldwide, both paintings and artists books.
Svanborg Matthíasdóttir works mainly with painting, book art and textiles. Her works are often based on color, form or experiments with non-traditional materials. She is educated in painting in the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts Reykjavík and Jan van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht in the Netherlands. Her works have been exhibited in Iceland, Europe and the United States.
Helga Pálína Brynjólfsdóttir works with various kinds of textile and book art and has been a part of numerous exhibitions in Iceland and abroad. She graduated in 1988 from the textile department of The University of Art and Design, Helsinki Finland. Prior to that she had graduated with a B. Ed degree from the Iceland University of Education.
Arnþrúður Ösp Karlsdóttir is a visual artist. In her textiles and artist books she works with traditional textile and fiber techniques, expressing natures visual qualities, in form and image, texture and atmosphere. She has an education in textile art and design from The Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts and as a teacher in adult education from Håndarbejdet Fremmes Seminarium in Copenhagen. She has participated in exhibitions in Iceland and abroad and lives and works in Reykjavík.
Anna Snædís Sigmarsdóttir works with visual arts, design teaching, graphic and book arts. Studied at the The Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts and have M.Ed degree in art history and vocational education from University of Iceland. Has held private and joint exhibitions in Iceland and various corners of the world, such as Lithuania, Denmark, Germany, USA and Sweden.
Kristín Guðbrandsdóttir creates through exploring patterns, textures and color combinations in her everyday surroundings, addressing feelings, memory and experience. Her works can be found in numerous private and university collections in the US and Canada and at the Library of Congress. Kristín earned a MA degree in Art and the Book from Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington DC. She also has a B.Ed. from the Iceland University of Education.
Cornelia Theimer Gardella is a visual artist living and working in Erfurt, Germany. Her work revolves around experiencing sparse landscapes and remote places. She is interested in patterns and structures, and the line of the horizon is a recurring theme. Besides spending time in the deserts of the American Southwest, she has worked in Iceland, Sweden and Finland.
Sauna is Life: Sauna Culture in Finland
January 10 - April 24, 2024
From the start of life to final days, saunas are integral to culture in Finland. Sauna are an old phenomenon with its earliest versions believed to be from 7000 BC. It is marked on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. This is a high honor that indicates how vital this tradition to the Finnish people is: at home and abroad. This exhibit will introduce visitors to the history and tradition of saunas while exploring the future of contemporary urban sauna as well.
“Having sauna is sacred in the sense that it connects you to the world. It’s a place where you find yourself and this peaceful joy of life. And the bareness that the sauna allows. It’s so natural that it reconnects you with nature. There’s no shame, no stress, no tensions there and truly sauna is life.” -Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
We are proud to be collaborating with Finlandia Foundation for Sauna is Life.