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Duluth, Minnesota, Artists Exhibit Work at Vesterheim

Tue, Sep 3rd, 2013
Posted in All Arts & Culture

DECORAH, Iowa— On September 20 Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, will open “Four from the North,” an exhibition of recent works by Alison Aune, Ann Jenkins, Ann Klefstad, and Arna Rennan, artists from the Duluth Minnesota area. The four artists will be at the museum during a reception from 5:00-7:00 p.m. There will be a welcome and gallery talk at 5:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

“Their artworks reflect a deep respect and love for the natural world and the ways in which natural motifs have created the traditional patterns of Norway and Minnesota,” said Vesterheim Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson. “The artists work in different styles and media, but are united in a shared Nordic aesthetic and a mutual appreciation of heritage,” she added.

Alison Aune is a native of Amherst, Massachusetts, where she received her BFA from the University of Massachusetts. She has an MA from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and a PhD in Comparative Arts from Ohio University. Aune is Professor of art education at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Her great-grandparents came to Minnesota from arctic Norway and Växjö, Sweden. About her work Aune says, “The patterns that we associate with Scandinavian sweaters and other designs are symbols that have meanings beyond being simply decorative. Repetition imbues symbols with strength and power.”

Ann Jenkins grew up in Duluth. She received a BFA in painting from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a graduate degree in library science from Western Michigan University. She did further studies at the University of Oslo International Summer School. Jenkins’s work has been exhibited in Minnesota, Canada, and Sweden. Her father’s family came from Telemark to Muskego and the Wind Lake area of Wisconsin in the late 1840s. Her work is largely of northern Minnesota landscapes, but the Norwegian fjords often appear in her paintings, too.

Ann Klefstad is both writer and artist. She had been immersed in the Los Angeles art scene before settling in the Midwest. She covered the arts for the Duluth News Tribune for several years, first as a freelance art reviewer and then as the arts and entertainment reporter. Her art has been heavily influenced by the ideas of the Norwegian philosopher and environmentalist Arne Næss. Her grandparents came to Duluth from Norway (Lofoten and Gudbrandsdal). The landscape in Duluth held them and Klefstad found it necessary to return to the North Shore in order to root her work in the water and the forest.

Arna Rennan was born in Duluth to parents that had recently emigrated from Norway. The walls in their home were filled with paintings by her grandfather and uncles. She identified with them and their paintings reinforced her own desires. At age 12, she attended her first painting class at the Duluth Art Institute. She studied art at the National Academy of Art in Oslo, Norway, from 1973 to 1981 under Alf-Jorgen Aas. After returning to Minnesota in 1986, she began painting landscapes on location as a way to once again feel a part of her surroundings. On a recent painting expedition to the Lofoten Islands, she returned inspired by the fresh air and the effects of light on the rugged Norwegian landscape.

“Four from the North” will be on view through April 16, 2014. The exhibition is sponsored by Janet Isabelle Dyck and James A. and Elaine Halls with additional support from Joan Judeen Smith, John and Beryl Bredeson, Glenn and Carole Hansen, and Twin Ports Rosemaling Society.

Through 24,000 artifacts and 12 historic buildings, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center in Decorah, Iowa, shares the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world. This treasure is also a center for folk-art education, offering a wide variety of classes in authentic Norwegian folk art every year. For more information on the museum’s exhibitions, classes, events, membership opportunities, and ways to donate, check Vesterheim’s website at, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.

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