Tracker Pixel for Entry

Exhibition Honoring Scandinavian Folk Art Opens at ND Heritage Center & State Museum

Arts | December 10th, 2023

By Maddie Robinson

maddierobi.mr@gmail.com

Pieper Bloomquist, an artist and oncology nurse based out of Grand Forks, has been interested in art since she was a child living in Regal, Minnesota, a town of less than 50 people. Stretching back to her school days in a one-room schoolhouse, she would spend her spare class time using the art supplies in the “library,” (a table in the back by the bookcases.)

She delved into folk-art styles later in 1993 when she started learning Bauernmalerei, a Bavarian folk-art technique. While learning Bauernmalerei, Bloomquist painted a Christmas ornament for a co-worker who had been a major help while she was pregnant with her daughter.

Then, when Bloomquist was able to go back to work, she received an order for 100 more.

Her exploration of decorative painting styles didn’t stop there. After taking a class about rosemaling, a Norwegian painting technique, in 1996, she found books on Swedish painting techniques known as dalmålning and bonadsmålning. Thus, her love for traditional folk art continued to flourish.

Bloomquist’s work with these traditional Scandinavian folk-art forms will be on display in a new exhibit, "Fantastical Flourishes: The Folk Art of Pieper Bloomquist.” The exhibition will run until November 2024 in the North Dakota Artists Gallery at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum.

David Newell, the exhibitions manager at the State Historical Society of North Dakota, curated and organized the exhibition. He said he began working on it last June and visited Bloomquist at her home and studio in August to begin selecting what artwork to display. Newell added Bloomquist’s exhibit will feature both 2D and 3D works, from ceramics to paintings to cabinetry, with all of the pieces employing the Scandinavian art styles she specializes in.

Not only will the exhibit feature some of her artwork, but Bloomquist said items from her studio, like her brushes, templates and sketchbooks will be on display as well.

“She [Bloomquist] has this very delightful style. It's very light, very delicate, but very dramatic at the same time, but it's based in Scandinavian traditions,” Newell said. “But again, she has upgraded it to a contemporary world. So it's interesting to see the old and the new combined, so it made for a really fascinating exhibit.”

According to Newell, a major reason Bloomquist was selected to be the sole artist featured for this exhibition was because of her ability to tell contemporary stories with traditional Scandinavian artforms. Along with the fact that Bloomquist was awarded a Governor’s Award for the Arts this year and because her work is featured internationally, the choice was clear.

Bloomquist said she didn’t fully make the connection between her artwork and storytelling abilities until Troyd Geist, the state folklorist at the North Dakota Council on the Arts, discovered her when she applied for an apprenticeship with Karen Jenson, a renowned rosemaler whose career spans over 50 years. Due to her nursing background and artistic abilities, Geist pushed her to pursue more art that focused on telling other people’s stories.

“He [Geist] found that the Swedish folk art that I was doing, which is narrative storytelling, he put the connection to me being from healthcare and able to communicate with elders and be able to tell their stories in pictures,” Bloomquist said. “He saw that in me very early on, long before I did.”

Geist developed the Art for Life Program, where artists are brought into elder care facilities to interact with and teach residents art techniques. While one of the reasons for this program is to get older people to try new things, the Art for Life Program aims to combat the “three plagues” often experienced by residents in elder care facilities: loneliness, boredom, and helplessness.

Bloomquist has been an active member in this program since 2011 and travels throughout the state to engage with older populations and tell their stories through her art.

“I just found through doing these activities with people, I was just helping them paint a little painting, but I was learning so much about the life of people, especially here in the Upper Midwest, and how we have universal experiences,” Bloomquist said.

Bloomquist said she also finds inspiration for her stories through her time as an oncology nurse. At the hospital she used to work at, they had end-of-life rooms for patients needing care and dozens of stories would be told from the families during their time spent there.

One of Bloomquist’s ultimate goals is to perpetuate Norwegian and Swedish culture throughout the Midwest and beyond. Since Bloomquist has a strong Swedish heritage, she specifically thinks dalmålning and bonadsmålning are ways for her to put a part of her soul on the canvas and spread part of her culture with audiences everywhere.

“If it's not a culture that you're used to, it's introducing you to that cultural mindset and the beauty that that culture has created,” Newell said. “I think that again, that's a really important thing for gallery visitors to experience.”

___________________________

YOU SHOULD KNOW

"Fantastical Flourishes: The Folk Art of Pieper Bloomquist” will be open until November 2024 at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum, 612 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck.

Open 8am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 10am-5pm. (701) 328-2666, statemuseum.nd.gov

Recently in:

By Maddie Robinsonmaddierobi.mr@gmail.com This article discusses topics related to mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org. …

Homesteading stories shared by late local historianBy Michael M. Millermichael.miller@ndsu.edu The 53rd Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention convenes July 17-20 at the Baymont Hotel in Mandan, North Dakota. For further…

With Javier Quiroz and Kohlrabi SoupJuly 10 at 7 p.m.The Aquarium226 N. Broadway, Fargo (above Dempsey’s)The Wall Street Journal had this to say about “Black Banjo,” Tray Wellington’s full-length debut: “This is a record…

The WFF Unified School District?By John Strandjas@hpr1.com Both the Fargo and West Fargo School Districts are strategizing their futures. This is necessary, because of immensely challenging financial and geopolitical changes facing…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comShould ‘The Chosen One’ be Sentenced to Spend Months at each Level?It’s not unusual on this planet, we have had hundreds of men and a couple of women who have used religion to become…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com Holiday wine shopping shouldn’t have to be complicated. But unfortunately it can cause unneeded anxiety due to an overabundance of choices. Don’t fret my friends, we once again have you covered…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com In this land of hotdish and ham, the knoephla soup of German-Russian heritage seems to reign supreme. In my opinion though, the French have the superior soup. With a cheesy top layer, toasted baguette…

HPR chats with Bob Carpenter of the Nitty Gritty Dirt BandBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com When asked if it was fair to consider the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band as “the godfathers of contemporary Americana” during our interview,…

Now playing at the Fargo Theatre.By Greg Carlson gregcarlson1@gmail.comPalme d’Or recipient “Anatomy of a Fall” is now enjoying an award-season victory tour, recently picking up Golden Globe wins for both screenplay and…

New Minnesota sculptures include artist’s largest trollBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com According to Danish artist and environmental activist Thomas Dambo, “All trash is treasure.” So far, he and his team have built 138…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.com AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Jim Fugliejimfuglie920@gmail.comMy articles here are about politics. I’m writing this before the North Dakota primary election. You are reading it after the primary. Advantage: readers. So I won’t speculate much on that…