Dry storage container © 1991 Marilyn Olin Dry storage container © 1991 Marilyn Olin

Gold Medal In: Rosemaling, 1991

  • Life Dates Born 1931 in St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Occupation Housewife and part-time teacher
  • Residence at Time of Award St. Paul, Minnesota


  • 1987 White ribbon for a chest
  • 1988 White ribbon for a black oval box (tine) on stand
  • 1989 Red ribbon for an oval box (tine)
  • 1990 Blue ribbon for a kubbestol
  • 1991 Red ribbon for a dry storage container

Artist Statement

From childhood, the sounds of my grandmother and mother speaking Norwegian are still quite vivid. As they talked, I would often be playing with or around artifacts from Norway. Both the language and the symbols made a deep connection to my spirit and my style of visual expression. This began my deep love of rosemaling.

My first classes of rosemaling were at Augsburg College. I had an art teacher from Norway— Mr. Hans Berg, who was a great inspiration to me. I was fortunate to be in the first rosemaling class taught at Vesterheim in 1967. This class was taught by Sigmund Aarseth.

Receiving my Gold Medal was a “Mountaintop Experience” for me. I soon realized I could not stay on the mountain top, but needed to come down and continue to expand my interest and talents in rosemaling. My painting today still reflects my love of shaded Telemark with its scrolls, flowers, and long stem lines of the Telemark tradition.

My most intimate and strongest supporter was my spouse, James Olin, who died a few years ago. Since that low period in my life, rosemaling has provided the spirit and energy needed to sustain me in my continuing pursuit of rosemaling. Each year, a “pilgrimage” to Decorah is part of my calendar. The renewal of rosemaling friendships and the endearing community we have established is exceptional and life giving.