Creating something by hand brings joy, whether you are a beginning crafter or experienced artist. At Vesterheim’s Folk Art School, students and instructors learn through hands-on example in many different folk art traditions. Some of those traditions are specific to Norway, and we think you’ll enjoy learning these three at Vesterheim this year!
Kulokk: Norwegian Cow Herding Calls with Peggy Larson
The tradition of kulokk is a fascinating, unique, and beautiful musical tradition. Beginning in the middle ages, it continued until the 1940s, when more industrialized farming came to Norway. The original singers of kulokk were most often young farm girls aged 14–17 years who were sent up to the hills with the herd of 12–16 cows. These girls embraced the independence of three months alone in the hills and the power of singing kulokk, making them strong women! Kulokk is also sung by men, mainly calling the horses. It was revived in the 1970s, when hippie farmers started the summer farming tradition. Today kulokk is often sung by folk and jazz singers.
Peggy Larson studied the vocal technique of Norwegian herding in 2007 when she traveled to Norway and interviewed singers and farmers, visited the folk archives, and collected melodies and stories about kulokk. She currently leads the Earthtones women’s world music chorus and Portland Avenue Sanctuary Choir and is also the cantor for the Meditative services at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Saint Paul.
Traditional Coastal Sámi Jewelry with Hege Nilsen
July 31 – August 4
This beautiful jewelry is made with braided pewter, leatherwork, embroidery, and mica embellishments. Like many nomadic people, the historic Sámi, Scandinavia’s indigenous people, concentrated their wealth in jewelry. They traded with the Norse, Finns, and other neighbors for silver, brass, pewter, and fabrics to add to their own reindeer leather and antler embellishments.
Folk artist and culture-bearer Hege Nilsen lives and works in Kåfjord, a village in Troms og Finnmark county, Norway, and celebrates her Coastal Sámi culture by making traditional handcrafts. She teaches handcraft skills together with storytelling as a testament to the lasting legacy of coastal Sámi culture.
Skinnfell Bench Cover with Rebecca Utecht and Sue Flanders
September 23 – 24
Traditionally used for an entire family’s warm bedding on cold winter nights, skinnfell were created from multiple sheepskin hides that were carefully stitched together by hand and then decorated using wood black printing. The motifs were meant to convey good wishes to the receiver.
Becky Utecht and Sue Flanders are passionate fiber artists from Minnesota and have taught hundreds of students the magic of fiber arts both regionally and nationally.
Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum & Folk Art School
523 W. Water St.
Decorah, IA 52101
Vesterheim Main Building and Museum Store are open daily 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Check vesterheim.org for updates, and to visit the informative blog, calendar of events, online store, virtual galleries, and more.
Vesterheim Folk Art School offers both online and onsite classes! Register for programs here.
The building project Vesterheim Commons is progressing quickly! Find updates and information about Strong Roots | Bold Future, The Campaign To Grow Vesterheim here.