Arctic Highways at Scandinavia House, April 15 – July 23, 2023
“Opening April 15 at Scandinavia House, Arctic Highways brings together the artwork and handicrafts of 12 Indigenous artists from Sápmi, Canada and Alaska in an exhibition highlighting the thriving cultural and spiritual communities of the Arctic region. Curated by Indigenous artists Tomas Colbengtson, Gunvor Guttorm, Dan Jåma and Britta Marakatt-Labba, the exhibition includes their own works alongside those of artists Matti Aikio, Marja Helander, Laila Susanna Kuhmunen, Olof Marsja, Máret Ánne Sara, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Maureen Gruben and Meryl McMaster.
The exhibition includes a wide range of artworks and duodji (Sámi handicrafts) including Britta Marakatt-Labba’s narrative embroidery portraying motifs from Sámi culture and history; sculpture works by Máret Ánne Sara utilizing traditional objects such as the komsekula silver amulet (believed in Sámi culture to have protective powers); handmade clothing and sculpture works by Laila Susanna Kuhmunen; mixed-media sculptures by Gunvor Guttorm; and Tomas Colbengtson’s The Children of the Sun, which incorporates a traditional shaman drum with portraits of Sámi heroes, including poets, artists and linguists.
Many works explore Sámi identity, such as the sculptures of Olof Marsja, which incorporate organic, industrial and handmade materials into ambiguous figures and objects; photographs by Meryl McMaster, which examine the self in relation to land, lineage, history, and culture; and video works by artists Matti Aikio and Dan Jåma. The exhibition also looks at the contemporary context of the Arctic, as in Sonya Kelliher-Combs’s mixed-media art focusing on the changing North and our relationship to nature and each other; images and video by Maureen Gruben, who investigates life in the Arctic within global environmental concerns; and Marja Helander’s photography series North, which examines the dependence between humans and nature through landscapes and portraits.” — Scandinavia House