How did you get involved in your field of folk art?
I admired rosemaling from afar, until my son Ron decided to go to school at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. I soon discovered what was going on at Vesterheim Museum and in Decorah. With apprehension, I took my first class in 1987 with Eldrid Arntzen, in the Valdres style. Good Choice. Before the class, I experienced one day of Nordic Fest and only missed one year after that. I also visited the museum. My camera clicked in awe. I wasn’t admiring rosemaling from afar. I was hooked.
Does Norwegian folk art speak to your identity? In what way?
Rosemaling has added, in a beautiful artistic way, to my identity. It has awakened an interest in my Scandinavian background. All my family were early Swedish and Norwegian settlers in Kensington, Minnesota. The Kensington Runestone was found there. This area of Minnesota, in Jackson County, where we live, our church and my husband’s family have strong Norwegian roots. In the early years, many chose St. Olaf College, including my husband and relatives. My husband Lowell and I took a Scandinavian tour in 1996. We visited Trondheim in Norway and Nidaros Cathedral. I found out more about the introduction of Christianity and St. Olaf coming out of the Viking era. It has inspired many of my competition trunks. While traveling by train across southern Sweden, little did I know, at that time we were near the birth place of my grandfather in Skane. He was a painter and did beautiful faux finishes in Kensington. I seek to know more about his background in Sweden and his father, knowing it might indicate some interesting artistic background.
Who or what has influenced you the most?
I would have to say Vesterheim and every area of learning opportunities they offer has influenced me most. Starting in 1987 I took many Vesterheim classes, at least one class a year, experiencing many district styles, great teachers and their interpretations. I traveled 80 miles on my day off the first five years, spring and fall to Sioux Falls. I studied with Sunhild Muldbakken, a Gold Medalist. In my earlier years I took summer classes at Augustana College in connection with the South Dakota Rosemaling Association.