The four Norwegian tapestries brought a new spark of color to the spare 1862 Valley Grove stone church this summer. Now the leaves on the prairie oak trees are turning, the unheated church is closed until next spring, and the colorful tapestries came down. They will make a couple of appearances elsewhere in the state, and then rest in their special box until spring returns to southern Minnesota.
From a hillside in the country to a steep street in downtown Duluth
A show of the tapestries opened at the Nordic Center on September 30. It includes the four tapestries, the collaged and sketched original designs, the cartoons used on the loom while weaving, plus several more of my family tapestries. The staging is beautiful, thanks to the talents of Carol Colburn, Denise Olsen, Jeffrey Kalstrom and Justin Anderson. Even the little highly imperfect samples I sent along for visitors to touch are arranged like special small artifacts.
During the Friday night opening (when I wasn’t talking with visitors), I demonstrated tapestry weaving, a single fox to commemorate this commission. After the weekend, the loom will be displayed in the street-side window.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this exhibit? The children’s activity! The Nordic Center used a grant to hire local artist Alison Aune to create an activity booklet based on the history of Norwegian tapestry and the Valley Grove Tapestries. It will be available to young visitors to the exhibit, and distributed to local schoolchildren, along with a pack of markers, as art kits.
Here are some selected pages. Alison Aune did a marvelous job of choosing facts that will appeal to young readers, in addition to making fun coloring pages, which reminded me of the recent craze over detailed coloring book images aimed at adults.
Clifton Nesseth asked for a photo at the opening. An alert gallery visitor looked at my four Valley Grove tapestries and asked about this one, “How come you have your initials on the other three and not on this one?” What? Sure enough, no initials. Clearly a design oversight!
If your October includes a trip to Duluth, check out the show at the Nordic Center.
More information on the four tapestries here: robbielafleur.com/valley-grove
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