Community art exhibit annual part of Heikinpäivä

HANCOCK – A month of Finnish themed activities in Hancock culminated in Heikinpäivä, the city’s annual celebration of Finnish Heritage which took place Saturday. The last scheduled event was the opening of the Copper Country Community Art Center’s new exhibit, “Animal Life: Art from the Kalevala.” The exhibit is only in one room of the gallery, but the space was filled by the well-attended opening.

“We participate in Heikinpäivä every year and we’ve been using animals because people respond to it,” said CCCAC Director Cynthia Cote. “This year, we had 24 artists participate with 33 pieces … It’s probably the most mixed it’s ever been with everything from clay to soft sculptures.”

All of the pieces are inspired by stories from the Kalevala, a book of Finnish mythology first compiled into print from oral tradition by 19th-century ethnographers. Familiarity with the work can help deepen appreciation for the pieces, but most pieces are accompanied by the passage that inspired them, so an encyclopedic knowledge of the book is not necessary for understanding.

The works in the gallery come from a community call, meaning that anyone was able to submit a piece and every piece that was submitted was included in the exhibit. Cote praised the research conducted by the artists to create their pieces. Some pieces are illustrations of events from the Kalevala, while others are character pieces or more abstract ideas inspired by the language of the poem.

Local artist Lindsey Heiden’s piece, “Imprisonment Charm,” is inspired by the Kalevala’s “Poem 17” which describes “nine castrated lambs, the offspring of one ewe, the calves of one cow.” Her mounted clay sculpture depicts nine lambs’ heads budding from the body of the one ewe.

“I liked the possibilities of thinking of one animal producing all of those animals, those nine lambs came from that one ewe,” said Heiden. “I do this every year because it’s such an awesome exhibit … there are so many talented artists, it’s a pleasure to be a part of it.”

The exhibit opening has come and gone, but the exhibit will remain on display in the arts center until Feb. 28, which is “Kalevala Day.” The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Due to its local interest, the Kalevala is typically available at area bookstores.


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