Veera Kulju (Finnish, b. 1975) is gripped by her sensitivities. The overwhelm of the world prompts her to turn inwards. To recall the imaginative ways of a child and immerse herself in fables. To fortify these imaginations, she turns to nature. Noticing the wilting leaves on the forest floor or the twigs that meander and amass along a riverbank. Life is fragile. Its beauty and import are not lost on Kulju. Instead, she touches it. She searches for it in the clay. Each piece is an active collaboration between artist, a myriad of tools such as forks and sieves, and the ancient medium. From its belly she ferrets out a sense of serenity and comprehension, willing the viewer to examine the edges of their own mind and consciousness.
In Kulju’s series of “mirrors,” we are given an ecosystem of delicate detail. The ornate edges lure us closer, until we land on the center, only to find a pregnant blankness— room for questioning. While the works are titled as mirrors, there is no reflective quality. Instead, Kulju crafts a space to begin mulling on that which we feel, find fragile, or struggle to understand. Typically working in a pared down palate of black and white, versatility enters through texture and a variety of glossy and matte glazes. Recently, Kulju has begun to incorporate earth tones on her large vessels. The hues seem directly lifted from rocks or mineral deposits, further enhancing her connection to the natural world.
For Kulju, the process of sculpting is intimate. As a viewer, we are tricked into thinking the object was born as is. So expertly are they crafted, that the many hours of meticulous work required become obscured by their immediate beauty. The element of total involvement is persuasive for Kulju, a practical way to stay grounded. We learn to touch with our eyes in the presence of her work. To let them soothe, and in turn provoke or haunt us. By acknowledging sensitivity, Veera Kulju ushers in an emergent strength.
After studying at the School of Design and Crafts at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and the Vihti School of Art and Craft in Artesan, Finland, Kulju received a BA from Lahti University of Applied Science, Institute of Design, Experimental Design, in Lahti, Finland in 2005. She went on to receive her MA in 2010 from Aalto University, School of Art and Design, in Espoo, Finland. From 2017-2018 she was a visiting artist at the Arabia Art Department. Kulju’s work was commissioned to be included in the Finnish State Art Collection and was recently acquired by the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. She has exhibited widely throughout Finland and abroad.