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"Narrative Threads: Works by Eight Nordic Artists" at Scandinavia House

Opening October 14 at Scandinavia House, Narrative Threads: Works by Eight Nordic Artists presents multi-media artwork by Nordic artists, each distinguished by their innovative use of natural, synthetic, and digital materials. Exploring Nordic craft traditions through a contemporary lens, the works in the exhibition engage with material experimentation, and digital technology. Textile design, ceramics, stitching, painting, audio recording, and assemblage unleash diverse narrative expressions and perspectives. The exhibition will feature the work of eight internationally celebrated artists: Margrethe Aanestad (Norway), Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter (Iceland), Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson (Iceland), Hildur Bjarnadóttir (Iceland), Astrid Krogh (Denmark), Heidi Hankaniemi (Finland), Marianne Huotari (Finland), and Kristina Riska (Finland). The works in the exhibition explore personal histories and intergenerational discourse, while influenced by ages-old handicraft techniques and cultural traditions.

The exhibition will reveal a variety of different artistic approaches: Margrethe Aanestad’s abstract drawing and sculpture subtly reference landscapes and the celestial sphere, while remaining wholly nonrepresentational. Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, known professionally as Shoplifter, works with both synthetic and natural hair. Her sculptures, wall murals and site-specific installations explore themes of vanity, self-image, fashion, beauty, and popular myth. Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson uses silk and dye in a hybrid process to create large-scale fabric installations based on the landscape of her native Iceland. As the warp and weft threads integrate, the original painted image begins to morph — blurring the edges and creating an atmospheric quality in the final work. Hildur Bjarnadóttir’s woven paintings, audio pieces, and large-scale silk installations investigate issues of belonging, ecology, place and cohabitation with animals and plants on a small piece of land in the south of Iceland where she lives and works. Fascinated by the interplay of textiles and light, Astrid Krogh explores the dialogue between natural and artificial illumination when paired with fibers. Inspired by cycles of life in nature, many of Krogh’s neon patterns use print or woven textiles to evoke the repetition of her natural surroundings. Heidi Hankaniemi listens to the mundane and attempts to interpret the narratives which are embedded in our everyday. Her practice incorporates the tactile and the performative, ultimately arriving at a body of work that is both spiritual and deeply grounded in the handmade and physical. Marianne Huotari’s distinctive ceramic works weave tradition with contemporary art by applying the classic Finnish textile technique with unpredictable materials. With her pieces, she explores hecticness of modern days through slowness of craftsmanship. Kristina Riska has been exploring, defying, and redefining the traditional tenets of ceramic sculpture since the 1980s. Her unorthodox, large-scale works, inspired by nature and the properties of light and shadow, embody her rigorous and physical approach to her work.

Narrative Threads will be on view at Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America from October 14, 2023 through February 17, 2024.

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