Traveling Traditions: Nordic Folk Arts in the Upper Midwest

June 11 to August 22, 2022

This banner exhibition features a cross-section of traditions Nordic Americans practice in the region. Graduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, trained in folklore fieldwork practices and working in cooperation with the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Wisconsin Arts Board, spent three summers traveling to communities throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. There they met with and documented many of the artists who are sustaining Scandinavian traditions, sharing them with their communities, and passing them along to others.

This exhibition offers a look at the ways in which Nordic folk arts are practiced and sustained in the Upper Midwest. These traditions are just one small part of the cultural heritage that makes the Upper Midwest home to people from all over the world. Featured are: handcrafter Alana Maijala from Virginia, Minnesota; weaver Nancy Ellison from Zumbrota, Minnesota; woodcarver Lowell Torkelson of Willmar, Minnesota; knitter Solveig Nielsen of Mineral Point, Wisconsin; accordionists Rod Maki and June Johnson of Merrill, Wisconsin; and baker Jewel Peterson Ouradnik of Ellison Bay, Wisconsin.

The seven artists are also featured on a website where you can read their stories, hear short audio clips from their interviews, view more pictures of their work, and, in some cases, see short video demonstrations. We hope you enjoy exploring different facets of Nordic American folk art in the Upper Midwest through the online resource here.