Minnesota is home to a large number of descendants of Scandinavian and Finnish immigrants. Folks here love their pickled herring and carved Swedish horses. I’m sure this popular interest in the heritage and history served as an impetus behind the University Gallery’s 1979 exhibition Scandinavian Wood. The exhibition, which also toured to other locations in the Midwest, showcased the ornate woodworking crafts of the Scandinavian and Finnish tradition. The catalogue states:
“Wood is to Scandinavia as marble was to Greece. It is the building material par excellence. It could be dug out, steamed and bent, splintered, carved, gouged, hammered, and made into a myriad of useful things. In an effort to define the importance of wood in Scandinavia, the exhibition has been grouped according to six different aspects of daily life requiring the use of wooden objects.”
The six categories the curators chose are displayed nicely in these charming exhibition photos I found in the files: Storage, Clothes, Music, Tools, Food, and Whimsy. Storage includes items such as bentwood boxes, baskets, canteens. Clothes shows looms and tools for washing clothes. Food shows spoons and bowls and the like. Tools displays augers, knives and of course, ski poles, while Music includes violins, a horn, and a flute. Whimsy (my favorite category) includes the toy horse, ornaments, a fan, and Värmland trolls.
Areca Roe is a MFA graduate from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Art, with a concentration in photography and minor in Museum Studies. Areca completed her project involvement in Fall 2011, and has subsequently been involved with the University as an artist in residence at the University’s Bell Museum of Natural History.