Artist Pamela Davis explores Symbols and Fiber Art at Vesterheim

DECORAH, Iowa — Artist Pamela J. Davis of Little Canada, Minnesota, will present “A Mystical Journey of Symbols and Fiber Art” at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum on Sunday, November 15, at 2:00 p.m. in the museum’s Amdal-Odland Heritage Center.

The lecture is offered in conjunction with “Sacred Symbols, Ceremonial Cloth,” an exhibition on view at Vesterheim through February 21, 2010. The exhibition and programming is sponsored in part by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibition is also sponsored by Kate Nelson Rattenborg and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, The Royal Norwegian Embassy, John and Veronna Capone, Paul and Carol Hasvold, T. Eileen Russell, Jane Y. and John Connett, and Carol O. and Darold Johnson.

Davis’s presentation is about inspiration and process and will be illustrated with some of her weavings. Davis works primarily in tapestry, combining traditional weaving techniques, free-form techniques, ancient symbols, and contemporary designs. Her work fulfills her long-time love of fibers with an interest in ancient and Celtic art. “I am fascinated by the spiral, the knot-work, and the key patterns often associated with Celtic art,” Davis says.

Davis custom dyes wool from Australia and New Zealand for her tapestries and weaves on linen from Ireland or Belgium. Recently she has started incorporating other materials, such as beads, sterling silver, copper, and silk into her designs. Many of her tapestries are large and can take months to complete. She also creates smaller pieces, which offer her opportunities to explore new dimensions to her work and to produce more art.

“I come from generations of artists and craft people,” Davis said. She explained that as a child she watched her elders tailoring for the local townspeople, creating decorative cutwork on linen, knitting, crocheting, sewing, and embroidering.

Her heritage is an important part of her sense of place. “But I am also fascinated by the ancient ones and nature, by a mystical sense of place, and I have visualized these feelings through creative processes,” she continued. Now, in her middle age, she has turned her attention to art.

Vesterheim uses the story of Norwegian Americans to explore aspects of identity and culture common to everyone. The museum cares for over 24,000 artifacts, among which are some of the most outstanding examples of decorative and folk art to be seen in this country. Founded in 1877, Vesterheim is the oldest and most comprehensive museum in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. This national treasure includes a main complex of 16 historic buildings in downtown Decorah, and an immigrant farmstead and prairie church just outside the city.

From May 1 – Oct. 31, Vesterheim is open daily, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays.  From Nov. 1 – April 30, Vesterheim is open Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays and is closed Monday. For more information on the museum’s exhibits, activities, and membership opportunities, consult Vesterheim’s website at, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 523 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.