Art installation with a ‘twist’ | News, Sports, Jobs

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Finnish artist Sirkku Ketola stands next to his print and paper tape that will feature in his performance work ‘A Body Called Paula’. She will give her final two performances from noon to 2:30 p.m. today and Wednesday at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock. An opening reception for Ketola will also be held at the gallery from 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday.

HANCOCK — A work of art takes shape in Hancock.

“A body called Paula”, an installation by Finnish artist Sirkku Ketola, will be at the Finlandia University Gallery of the Finnish American Heritage Center until October 14. She assembles the play in four performances, the last two of which take place this week.

Ketola mixes performance and screen printing in the piece which takes place over four days, the phases symbolizing the elements of a busy life.

In two-and-a-half-hour sessions, Ketola hand-prints intricate designs onto a flimsy ribbon of paper, which returns multiple times with each performance.

Ketola started working with screen printing 20 years ago as an art student. She loved the errors that occurred when working with analog technology. With experience, these flaws in his process disappeared.

She wanted them back.

“They give a twist, because life isn’t like an HD picture all the time,” Ketola said. “Our eyes don’t see very well and we don’t hear very well. We are not perfect. There is no such thing.

She decided to print on a larger scale. It’s more taxing on the body, she says. And with that inevitable fatigue come the mistakes that make things interesting.

“When you enlarge the size, it will always surprise you”, she says.

Instead of standard screen printing paper, she uses thinner calligraphy paper. She can find it in art stores everywhere she goes, and it’s easy to take with her afterwards.

To add colors, she works with water-based colors.

“It gives me technical challenges, so I know I will continue to make mistakes,” she says.

Ketola plays the role of a silent character, Paula, consumed by activity. The name has several meanings. It is derived from the Greek “paulus”, meaning small. In Finnish it means both “ribbon” and “trap.”

She builds layers day by day, each with its own meaning. Yellow, the first day, symbolizes “Light,” and was followed Monday by red, “Passion.”

From noon to 2:30 p.m. today, Ketola will perform “Knowledge,” with a cyan drawing.

“The blue opens up the picture, so you start to see what’s there,” she says.

The series ends with “Darkness” from noon to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Gallery director Carrie Flaspohler discovered Ketola’s work in 2018 during a visit to the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York. Ketola was originally scheduled to arrive in 2020, then 2021, with both trips being scuttled due to COVID.

Flaspohler appreciated the chance to bring performance art to Hancock.

“I thought it was great to bring this kind of innovative artistic process here”, she says. “The work is magnificent. The final piece is so intricate and the colors are gorgeous. And you can just see the craft associated with it.

“And there is also a risk”, Ketola said.

An opening reception for Ketola will also be held at the gallery from 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday. Ketola will give a conference from 7:20 p.m. Reception is free and refreshments will be served.

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