Vesterheim Presents an Exhibition of Contemporary Weaving

Betty Rikansrud Nelson, Decorah, Iowa, "Norse Goddesses" wall hanging in double weave pickup, wool on wool, 2009.

Betty Rikansrud Nelson, Decorah, Iowa, "Norse Goddesses" wall hanging in double weave pickup, wool on wool, 2009.

DECORAH, Iowa — Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum presents “Woven Women: Representations of the Female in Norwegian Weaving,” a juried exhibition of contemporary weaving.

The exhibition will be on view free of charge in the museum’s Westby-Torgerson Education Center from September 1-26 with special exhibition hours of Monday-Saturday 1:00-5:00 p.m. An opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, September 3 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Weaving demonstrations will be held in the exhibition area on Thursday, September 10, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. as part of Vesterheim’s Free Thursdays, sponsored by Decorah Bank and Trust Co.

The exhibition, sponsored by Lila Nelson, of Minneapolis, Minn., celebrates the long and varied tradition of Norwegian weaving and its many talented women weavers.

Contemporary artists were invited to create handwoven artworks in the Norwegian tradition that depict females abstractly or realistically. A panel of jurors selected the weavings for the exhibition, which include 22 works by 18 artists. Three of the artists are from the local area—Betty Rikansrud Nelson (Decorah), Barbara Berg (Decorah), and Judy Shuros (Dorchester). Other artists live in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Washington, California, Rhode Island, Virginia, and South Carolina.

The artworks were created in a variety of weaving techniques, from tapestry to double weave to damask. Some images are realistic, like Jan Mostrom’s “Backpacker,” which is a portrait of her daughter. Mostrom, of Chanhassen, Minnesota, said she tried to capture the strength, courage, and spirit of adventure with which her daughter lives her life. In contrast, Nancy Jackson’s “Consanguine,” is a completely abstracted view of the feminine body with suggestions of blood, ribs, and organs.

“This exhibition showcases the creative range of weavers today,” said Laurann Gilbertson, Vesterheim Textile Curator. “I think visitors will be heartily impressed with the artistic and technical talent in these textiles.”

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 a.m.-4 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 vesterheim.org, 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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