Functioning within limits of Scandinavian Folk art is what helped me learn to think like a designer.
The Language of Birds
The rooster Gullinkambe perches on top of the world tree Yggdrasil to wake up the gods.
Birds transcend all boundaries! They travel effortlessly into traditional, contemporary and abstract art.
Ale Hen exhibited in 1989 Norsk i Amerika Exhibit
We were honored to be included in some of these important Vesterheim folk art exhibits: they gave us an audience and a larger vision for new work.
Tankard with Geese, 1993
Bird Jar 2004, with wax resist designs, 15"
Birds were a favorite of 1950's Scandinavian designers with their simple, light-hearted forms.
Small Ale Hen, Porcelain with Rosemaled overglaze
Hen Candle Holders with chip carved design
Pottery Inspired by Textiles
By the mid 1990's I started to push beyond just Norwegian woodcarving designs. Textile elements and layers of wax resist added more color and original designs to the pots: I was especially inspired by Danish ceramic designers from the 1950's.
Triangle Bowl, 2009
My designs travel between fine art images to pottery to graphics. This integrated method of working seems to keep creative energy moving among them all.
Five Wise and Five Foolish
I began to apply traditional textile motifs to clay: Jesus' popular parable of women needing oil for wedding lamps gave us all a chance to portray all women in costumes.
Wedding Feast at Cana Bowl, 13" diameter
"They have no more wine" reported the wine steward in the gospel account of Jesus' first miracle. This young man falling off his horse possibly drank too much of it. Bible stories and illustrations were imaginatively interpreted by wood carver and weavers.
Serving plate with wild blueberries embroidery design
One of my first exposures to Scandinavian Folk Art was watching fellow art students Sue and Greta Jacobsen concentrate on their Danish counted cross stitch projects.
Polka Dot Bird Pitchers and Platter Bowl, 2010
This was a spring design series with wax resist designs inspired by lichen spots and Scandinavian embroidery.
Since most of Gene's pots are wheel thrown they work well geometric designs, like linen embroidery from Baltic region.
Swedish Modern Blomster
Jar with Celtic interlace
Wax Resist Jar
I experimented with combining combinations of red, yellow and blue glazes with an incised design.
I saw lichen in designs like this on rocks in Lac qui Parle State Park
Reindeer platter with leather and copper wire
Spiral Jar with Copper Wire
Stripes are beloved to all Scandinavian weavers
Passing Time with the Primstav
I am keenly interested in the Primstav calendars used widely in medieval Norway to accommodate religious and agricultural traditions. The Primstav symbols are like runes only with more imaginative scope. for me.
At first I inscribed both sides of the Primstav year on platters. The symbols were the source of my first folk art paintings. They also serve as a spiritual practice that attends closely to seasonal changes.
Primstav platter in 1989 Norsk i Amerika exhibit, Norway
Marion Nelson selected this Primstav platter as for the Vesterheim traveling exhibit. When I first became interested in the Primstav I would put the entire year of symbols on one of Gene's big platters.
Summer side, Primstav bowl, 2007
Detail of Spring side of the Primstav
Runes fascinate me, but I can't really get any imaginative traction like I do with the pictographs on the Primstav,ancient Norwegian calendar stick
Summer Side of the Primstav Bowl, 2016
April 14 symbol is a budding tree, the first day on the Summer side of the primstav
The tree of life is a common folk art motif across many cultures.
Viking Pedestal bowl with divide Spring tree design
Vårjamdøgn, midway between winter & summer solstice
Also the feast of St. Gregor, two oars topped with a spire, the early spring equinox
2016 God Jul Lidded bowl
Tile, January 6, Tule: 13th day of Christmas, Epiphany in Christian tradition, symbol is the Three Kings' shining star
August 8, the assumption of the Virgin Mary
July 8, Kjell Fut or St. Sunniva's Day
I transformed the haying sickle symbol of this day into a spiral of grass in honor of the Irish Princess who was forced to flee her country. She and her companions settled in Selje, Ytre Nordford in the 11th century and after her martyrdom became the patron saint of west Norway.
November 11th, Feast of St. Martin, also Bear's Eve
The story goes that when people came to make Martin a bishop he hid among a flock of geese.
February 2, Kyndelsmass, also Feast of Light
Church feast for purification of Mary after birth of Jesus, symbol is a lily or candle. Important day for prophesying weather and harvest
Big Olav & Little Olav, July 29 and August 3
Important holy days in Norway.
Lafranz vaka, feast of St. Lawrence
Symbol: a grill. Important prophecying day
July 20, Mary of the water scoop
Haymaking in full swing, so not much rain was wanted now
November 25, Kari of the Spinning Wheel
Also St. Catherine's feast, reminding people it was time to bring out the spinning tools.
September 14, Autumn Festival of the Cross
Marks the beginning of autumn. Harvesting should be complete. Field gates removed so farm animals returned from summer pastures may gaze freely over cultivated land.(paraphrased from the Gausdal Church Primstav Calendar)
Summer Primstav Tile
Spring tree, Midsummer bonfire and September 1 millstone