National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition, 2013

By Laurann Gilbertson

Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum’s National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition was on view in Decorah, Iowa, from June 11 to July 27, 2013.   The exhibition, which also includes woodworking, knifemaking, and rosemaling (decorative painting), attracted more than 3,400 visitors.

Weavers sent traditional and contemporary interpretations of Norwegian weaves.  Judges wrote constructive comments and awarded ribbons.  The judges were Marta Kløve Juuhl, a weaver from Arna, Norway, and Linda Elkins, former Instructor of Art at Luther College and a weaver from Decorah, Iowa.

Entries in the Traditional category followed the historical tradition in technique, colors, and materials.  Entries could also be adaptations of old weavings.  In this category, a Blue Ribbon went to Sandra Somdahl (Decorah, IA) for “Fall Morning” Wall Hanging in krokbragd technique.

"Fall Morning" by Sandra Somdahl (Photo: Charlie Langton)

“Fall Morning” by Sandra Somdahl (Photo: Vesterheim staff)

A Red Ribbon went to Donna Laken (Rockford, IL) for “Crooked Path Blues” Rug in krokbragd technique.

208 Laken sm

“Crooked Path Blues” by Donna Laken (Photo: Vesterheim staff)

A White Ribbon went to Betty Rikansrud Nelson (Decorah, IA) for Table Runner in doubleweave technique.

"Table Runner in Doubleweave Technique" by Betty Rikansrud Nelson.  (Photo: Charlie Langton)

“Table Runner in Doubleweave Technique” by Betty Rikansrud Nelson (Photo: Vesterheim staff)

Honorable Mentions were awarded to Sharon Marquardt (Henning, MN) for a West Coast-style wall hanging and to Keith Pierce (Lauderdale, MN) for a Sami-style band.

"West Coast Wall Hanging" by Sharon Marquardt.  (Photo: Charlie Langton)

“West Coast Wall Hanging” by Sharon Marquardt (Photo: Vesterheim staff)

"Sami Band" by Keith Pierce (Photo: Charlie Langton)

“Sami Band” by Keith Pierce (Photo: Vesterheim staff)

Entries in the Contemporary category showed a contemporary departure from the historical tradition in technique or colors or materials.  Some elements still identified the pieces as being within the Norwegian weaving tradition.  In this category, Blue Ribbons went to Jane Connett (Roseville, MN) for “Bookmarks in Krokbragd Technique” and to Patty Kuebker Johnson (Roberts, WI) for “Exploring Drawloom” wall hanging.

204 Connett sm

“Bookmarks in Krokbragd Technique” by Jane Connett. (Photo: Vesterheim staff)

"Exploring Drawloom" by Patty Keubker-Johnson (Photo: Charlie Langton)

“Exploring Drawloom” by Patty Kuebker-Johnson (Photo: Vesterheim staff)

Veronna Capone (Brookings, SD) received two Red Ribbon, for “Centerpiece in Monksbelt Technique” and “Centerpiece,” a runner in turned monksbelt technique.

"Centerpiece" by Veronna Capone (Photo : Charlie Langton)

“Centerpiece” by Veronna Capone (Photo : Vesterheim staff)

No White Ribbons were awarded.  Honorable Mentions went to Nancy Ellison (Zumbrota, MN) for “The Farmer’s Sheep” wall wanging in krokbragd and rya techniques and to Judy Ann Ness (Eugene, OR) for “Celestial Navigation: The Journey Home,”  a wall hanging in krokbragd technique.

"The Farmer's Sheep" by Nancy Ellison (Photo: Charlie Langton)

“The Farmer’s Sheep” by Nancy Ellison (Photo: Vesterheim staff)

"Celestial Navigation: The Journey Home" by Judy Ness. (Photo: Charlie Langton)

“Celestial Navigation: The Journey Home” by Judy Ness (Photo: Vesterheim staff)

The Best of Show weaving was Jane Connett’s “Bookmarks.”  Visitors to the exhibition voted for their favorite weaving to receive a People’s Choice award.  They chose Donna Laken’s “Crooked Path Blues” rug.

As weavers win ribbons they accumulate points toward a Gold Medal.  Blue Ribbon = 3 points, Red Ribbon = 2 points, White Ribbon = 1 point.  After a weaver accumulates 8 points, he/she is awarded a Gold Medal.  With their ribbons this year, Veronna Capone and Betty Rikansrud Nelson received Gold Medals in Weaving.

Consider sending a piece or two for next year’s exhibition.  The deadline for entries will be May 23, 2014.  You can find Official Rules and Guidelines online, or if you prefer that a copy of the rules be mailed to you, contact me by phone or email.

Laurann Gilbertson has been Textile Curator at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum for 19 years and is now Chief Curator.

lgilbertson (at), 563-382-9681

(Editor’s note:  Read more about Veronna Capone’s weaving and her gold medal here.)

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