By Laurann Gilbertson, Curator
We have come to expect technical and artistic excellence from weaving entries in the National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition at Vesterheim. And once again, in 2017, we were not disappointed. The artists provided traditional and contemporary works in a wide range of Norwegian and Scandinavian techniques. Several artists included some interpretation to go with their works. Jan Mostrom’s wall hanging was woven entirely from yarn hand dyed with natural dyes, creating surprisingly bright colors. (See detail at left.) She wrote, “Weaving with these natural dyed yarns connected me with weavers of the past as I had to adapt if I ran short of a certain color of yarn. At times I used a different yarn and I occasionally had to change my original plan.” Nancy Ellison used natural wool locks from from Lars, a white Icelandic-Gotland cross ram in her flock, for a charming handwoven image of the ram himself. And Andrea Myklebust used flax she had grown and processed.
I had to interpret for one entry in the exhibition, a monksbelt table runner by Laura Demuth. It was displayed near the table where staff were stationed. When visitors read the label, they looked up at me and raised eyebrows or asked, “Why is it thanks to you?” Laura didn’t provide any explanation for the public, but I’m happy to share the story here. As Laura was planning a beginning weaving class for Vesterheim, she came to get ideas from the collection. She had decided on monksbelt and wondered what we had. We had several beautiful, but basic monksbelt coverlets, so I pulled a more “advanced” one at the end. From Lila Nelson’s personal collection, we have a monksbelt coverlet with four-sided border. The weaver changed from green on the edge to red for the center, while making a zigzag line between colors. It was the perfect challenge for an experienced weaver. I say thanks to Laura, and all the artists who helped make the 2017 exhibition a beautiful and inspirational show.
As a Gold Medal weaver, Laura’s piece was not part of the judging. She was on the other side of the table, serving as a judge for the exhibition, along with Doug Eckheart, Professor of Art (retired) from Luther College, Decorah, IA. Laura’s piece was still in the running for the annual “People’s Choice” award, and she won!
A blue ribbon was awarded to Corwyn Knutson, Roseville, MN, for “Nordlys,” wool Rya wall hanging. It was also awarded BEST OF SHOW. Congratulations, Corwyn.
Donna Laken, from Rockford, IL,won a red ribbon for “Simply Scandinavian,” a rug in bound rosepath.
A white ribbon was awarded to Kathryn Evans from Lena, IL, for a slit tapestry wall hanging. Slit tapestry is usually found in narrower bands. Her finishing techniques were original and beautiful, as seen in this detail.
Winnie Johnson received an honorable mention for her boundweave rug.
Helen Scherer, from Shawnee, KS, received an Honorable Mention for “When I grow up, I want to be like the Døvleteppe!,” a table runner in Vestfold technique.
Andrea Myklebust, Stockholm, WI, won an Honorable Mention for her linen table runner in block Damask technique. Andrea should get extra points for also displaying a carved distaff in the exhibition, writing, “I made this distaff for use on one of my spinning wheels. I’ve included a hank of my own hand-spun flax, which is the material used for this tool. It is an arrogant distaff because it is very tall to show off my long line flax.”
See entries from Vesterheim Gold Medal weavers and other entrants in this year’s exhibition, here.