Margin to Margin project has set me to work with communities through socially engaged art as well as site-specific art. My personal projects have been focusing on creating action and intervention in Namibia, South Africa and in Finland. It has been interesting to notice that art generates action and can truly create feeling of community.
Creating intervention in specific locations was one of my strong topics. In South Africa in Kimberley and Upington I created social sculptures with two San youth communities connected with PARTY (Participatory Development with Youth) -project during 2016-2017. In these locations we worked with social challenges, self-expression and sharing your views with your local community through posters. This action was very site-specific focusing on expressing your opinion to your community members in Platfontain and in Rosedale local communities. In these interventions to focus was in prevention of abuse and respecting San identities and cultures. This intervention took place in the street of the local neighborhood. The action included preparation of posters together as well as taking these into the neighborhood together.
Two other site-specific projects were around sustainability issues through plants. The first project took place in Hancock, Michigan where the project was engaging the local American-Finnish community to creating an installation of plants and a digitally printed textile. This project was part of Moved by Nature exhibition at Finlandia University Gallery. The other project around plants and taking care of them was a Winter Garden exhibition at Lapland University Lyhty Gallery. This focused on taking care of plants during the polar night. University community members could bring their plants for care during extended Christmas holidays. This created discussion about plants and how to organize care such as watering for them and what kind of relationships have been developed through this. People has many stories and memories about their plants. These site-specific project were more about creating a feeling of community in a specific place as in American-Finnish community or in Lapland University community through connecting topic.
The third project where I was working with plants was through a textile installation called “Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom” that was exhibited in Vaasa Art Museum and in Arktikum in Rovaniemi. This installation were an outcome of the series of workshops with school children and workshop participants felting flowers. The flowers together created a flowering field. This process will continue in exhibition in Port Augusta in Australia and hopefully later on I’ll have an opportunity to continue with the flower field. This installation included QR-code that led to vimeo to listen to the stories that the children were telling about the flowers they felted. Children were set to make all the different flowers growing together for tolerance and variety.
Empowerment and artist identities were topics that I was processing in two of the personal projects. The first one was a process were I was meeting and interviewing women artists from Namibia and Finland to create a circle of women artists to reflect on their identities and how they reflect their positions in geographic margin in far north and in far south. This was creating through creating the portraits through photographs and the artists written comments about their positioning as an artist. This circle of women was exhibited at Helinä Rautavaara museum exhibition “Margin to Margin”. Creating a circle of women took also place literally through connecting a circle of women with a string of yearn. This intervention took place with women of Penduka -project in Namibia. This is a collective of physically challenged women working with textile production and tourism. I had a short morning workshop with Penduka women who were sharing their ideas, feelings and opinions about their dreams and challenges. We wrote our dream and challenged in post it notes that were attached in a piece of string and circled through. Women red each other notes. This made us think about collective challenges and ways to overcome these. Working with circles of women focused strongly on thematic of empowerment and identity. Women’s identities are focusing on coping, caring, self-expression as well as strong vision and mission to look forward.