Plate © 1988 Suzanne Toftey Plate © 1988 Suzanne Toftey

Gold Medal In: Rosemaling, 1988

  • Life Dates Born 1940, New Ulm, Minnesota
  • Occupation Housewife/Artist
  • Residence at Time of Award St. Cloud, Minnesota


  • 1984 Blue ribbon for a plate depicting baptism of Jesus
  • 1986 Red ribbon for a kubbestol
  • 1986 White ribbon for a large plate
  • 1987 White ribbon for a plate
  • 1988 Blue ribbon for a plate
  • 1988 Red ribbon for a plate

Artist Statement

I’ve always been interested in art. When I was a student at St. Olaf College I took as many art classes as I could. Being of Norwegian descent my interest was drawn to many phases of Norwegian culture, especially the art of rosemaling. Later in life this enthusiasm led me to seek instructors that could teach me this beautiful folk art. I then discovered Vesterheim. What a gift that was! I have studied with the best rosemalers from Norway and America at Vesterheim.

As happens with all rosemalers, I took what I learned from all my wonderful teachers and developed my own style. I eventually started combining Norwegian scenes with my rosemaling. This has become the signature of my work. The scenes I paint reflect the love I have for my Norwegian heritage and my attempt to keep the culture alive for future generations. This has been a labor of love for me and I have been privileged to use my grandchildren as models for many of my paintings.

Although I admired the work of all my wonderful instructors, I guess Nils Ellingsgard has influenced me the most in rosemaling. With his vast research in all styles of rosemaling, he has done so much to educate people to appreciate the beautiful rosemaling of the past. I also enjoy his own rosemaling that he executes so masterfully. Another rosemaler that has been a great inspiration to me is Ethel Kvalheim. I feel privileged to know her and to view her as my role model.

I feel that Hans Dahl and Adolph Tidemand have been influences in the scenes I paint. They had the love that I share for painting real people in everyday scenes in Norway. Many of the scenes they painted were of Sognefjord from which my family came. I feel a kinship to them and their art because of this.