For this series of works, I focused on the mythical world of my long-gone Finnish-Karelian ancestors: their ideas and beliefs about this world as well as the afterlife. I began with snippets I knew or had heard about when growing up in Finland, and then based on those snippets, did quite a bit of research.
I read books and roamed around the Internet, and many surprising facts came to light, as I learned about the pre-Christian world my ancestors inhabited. It was a world both harsh and poetic; despite the day-to-day struggles, it still was full of songs, poems and myths about nature gods, animal spirits and all sorts of small invisible creatures.
My family comes from what used to be the eastern part of Finland, called Karelia. This region was ceded to the Soviet Union after two wars fought between the countries during the Second World War. My family, along with around 500 000 Karelians, left their homes and were absorbed by Finland proper, whose population in those days was only around 4,5 million.
Consequently, the stories I heard about Karelia and the old days were filled with a sense of loss and nostalgia. In some ways, it was a wound that never healed, and there were other family tragedies that followed. At one point, as a teenager, I wanted nothing to do with all that loss. I wanted to be myself, a modern, sophisticated European person.
Now, as I'm getting older, I've begun to understand that even though I did not grow up in Karelia, I am in many surprising ways a Karelian person. And I've come see and feel how strong my roots are, and how, even today, I carry my ancestors in a living part of my psyche.
These works are part of that journey of discovery - and there are still many, many other stories to tell.
|Works by featured artist Ulla Anobile.|
|Works by Tammy Mae Moon, Holly Wood, Patricia Krebs, Ingrid Tusell and Isabelle Bryer.|
|Works by artists Horka Dolls, Sarah Legault, Keely Benkey-Reichman, Michael Edwards and Denise Bledsoe.|
|Works by artists Gabriela Zapata, Jamie Chavez, Johnny 'Zurdo' Quintanilla, Joe Alvarez and Eden Folwell.|