Featured Artist: Seija Floderus

Seija Floderus' exciting art, rooted in her love of nature, will be on display during the Conference. Seija will be available to answer questions and describe her work in woven metals and icons. Some of her work can be seen online on her website and on her Facebook page. Here is her story:

My Background:  I was born on a small farm in Finland near the present border with Russia. The war had just broken and destroyed my country after World War II. Big Russia wanted to wipe out as an independent country - our small four million people country. Russia did not succeed, but we had to pay war reparations to the mammoth. Russia took 10% of our land, in addition they took the best mines and paper mills. As the war reparations we had to build ships, locomotives and other industrial products. In the war we lost a hundred thousand men killed and many more badly injured.

My country survived, as industry began to rise and flourish. Parents wanted to give their children a better future. Schools were rebuilt. Universities educated skilled professionals. The whole country worked in harmony. Today my country is one of the best welfare states in Europe

Childhood on a Farm:  My childhood on a farm was economically narrow. My father died in an accident when I was 12; my mother was left with five children alone. That was the end of my childhood, but I had learned to live with nature and with animals in harmony. Even then, I learned that we do not own this wonderful world, but God has loaned it to us. Our mission is to nurture this beautiful nature and its animals and take care of the nature. If we do not do our part of this important task, then we get sick ourselves.

Growing up and Marriage:  I moved out of the home farm, I went to the Christian folk academy, and I learned a lot of new skills that I needed later on. I rushed to my first marriage at the age of 20, which ended in divorce after four years. I was left with two children.

Multicultural Challenges:  A few years later I met my Swedish husband and I moved to Sweden. I was fond of the Swedish culture and standard of living, which I felt to be at a higher economic level than in Finland. Sweden was not involved in the war, so they were saved from destruction and poverty.

Sweden was highly developed country: their cars were built and sold around the world. The mines produced ores and steel used in the construction of cars and machinery. It was really well-being that I had not experienced before. I really enjoyed living in Sweden. I learned the culture and language.

My time in Sweden ran out too soon. My husband ́s company offered him an interesting job in the subsidiary in USA. Now I had to jump from Scandinavian to the American society. My children started school, and also I had to start a new language. Everything happened too fast. In Swedish period I had been blessed with a son, who was the third child. In USA, I got one more daughter and I had a wonderful big family with four children

Starting New Studies:  Now I had the opportunity to start learning: at first I went to High School, and then continued at the University in New Jersey. Later I continued my studies in the Art University in Rhode Island. My main subject was a textile design and a minor in visual arts. I graduated with Master of Fine Arts degree, to the profession that I had dreamed in my heart.

I got a grant to learn the art of icon painting in Valamo Orthodox monastery in Finland. I taught icon painting in courses later, in the United States, Finland, and Venice. Icon painting is a religious and a spiritual process.

Healing by Art:  Man has created art for as long as there have been people. Art has always had an impact on the human mind. It inspires and restores the health of the human mind. More and more it has been used as a therapeutic method for the human mind to soul. As an artist, I have discovered the healing power of art in my courses.

Healing and Nature:  I have always been interested in nature's own healing power. Once I found a book of African folk medicine. There was the story how Finnish nurse was taking care of the mother in a refugee center. The mother was having a baby and suffered of the labor pain. The mother asked the nurse to go to the jungle and bring the leaves from a certain medicine bush. "Take a couple of leaves, and bring them to me”. The nurse walked into the jungle and she met an elephant having a baby. The elephant took the whole bush and ate it all. Fortunately there were few leaves left to give the mother for helping her pain.

Animals know how to heal themselves, such as cats and dogs eat grass, if the stomach is sore. Fishes and the other sea animals have their own healing medicines in the ocean.

Our ancestors were skilled healers, who were familiar with the herbal medicine. These skills were transferred always to younger generations. Their skills were highly valued until the church began a witch-hunting and healers were burned at the stakes as witches in almost every country in dark ages.

Modern Medicine:  We have grown up in the modern medicine. We no longer appreciate  nature as a healer. We have been taught to trust the chemical medicines only. We have lost the connection to the nature. However, the truth is that, if nature suffers, we also suffer. Pollution will increase diseases: the air we breathe is polluted in large areas of our planet and increases respiratory illnesses. Also polluted land and environment can cause cancer and other diseases. We have not enough desire to clean the pollution of the factories, mines, traffic and power plants. We have to know that this cannot continue indefinitely.

EDUCATION

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, MA Master of Fine Arts, major: Fiber Arts 1997

Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI Bachelor of Fine Arts,

major: Textile Design, minor: Painting. 1990

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ Associate Degree, Liberal Arts 1987

WORK EXPERIENCE

ART TEACHING

Petra Kauniainen City Adult Education Center, Finland 2008 –

Genesis Spiritual Center Westfield, MA 1994 –

Brookfield Craft Center, Brookfield, CT 1995 –

Handicraft Club Providence, RI 1994 - 1998

Marywood Life Center, Jacksonville, FL 1997-2000

Ruarh Catholic Center Houston, TX 1998

Interlaken School of Art, Stuckbridge, MA 1998-2001

Peters Valley ,NJ 2002.

Kassandra ry Moninaiset, Helsinki 2005-2006

OTHER

Self Employed, created and sold tapestries, paintings, and other own arts 1989-1991.

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

Finland:

Minna Gallery, Kuopio 1994

Martta Gallery, Helsinki 1996

Ympyratalo, Helsinki 1998

Tattoo Hamina, 1999

Own Gallery Pikku-Huopalahti, Helsinki 2003-2005

Kontula Library, Helsinki 2006

Kapygrilli, Helsinki 2007, 2010

Kauniainen City Hall 2007

Sweden:

Båtellet, Marstrand 1997

Library, Marstrand (Icons exhibition) 1998

USA:

Fasset Gallery Fall River, MA 1990

Commonwealth insurance company N. Providence

Fairleigh Dickinson University Gallery, 1992

Santarella Museum, MA 1997,1998,1999

Jewish Community Center Providence, RI 1994

Grand Hotell, Boston 1998

Peters Valley NJ 1999

Barrington Library, RI 1998

Own Gallery in Warvick, RI 1996-2001

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

International Design Center New York City 1990

Rhode Island School of Design 1990

Museum of Fine Art Newport 1995

U-Mass Gallery MA 1997

White Gallery Barrington, RI 1998

Galerie All That Jazz, Nice, France 2008

Broome Street Gallery, Soho, New York 2009

ART IN PUBLIC COLLECTIONS:

Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, RI, USA

Women Breast Cancer Center, Providence, RI, USA

Bank of Rhode Island, Head Quarters, Providence, RI, USA

Chrysler Corporation, Miami, USA

Genesis life Center MA, USA

Sally O’Neel Collection, USA

LANGUAGES:

Finnish-Swedish-English