Summary of My Cross-Cultural Artist Exchange, Summer 2017

Written by Mari Mathlin, visiting artist from Iceland / Finland

In the Summer of 2017 I got a chance to participate in a Cross-Cultural Artist Exchange in the US, arranged by Art Shape Mammoth. The exchange program was in two parts: An artist residency at The Future along with an exhibition at Hair and Nails gallery in Minneapolis, MN, and participating as an international visiting artist at the Visitor Center Artist Camp in the UP of Michigan. Altogether my stay in the United States was three weeks long, from the 20th of July to the 16th of August, 2017.
The peaceful and laid back residency at The Future, which is located next to Hair and Nails Gallery, made my stay in Minneapolis very convenient while installing and working to install my exhibition. I received all the information concerning the gallery space and the equipment before my arrival, which helped a lot with preparations. The gallery owners were really kind and helpful in assisting during the whole process.

Mari with her installation at Hair and Nails Gallery

Mari and Lacey Prpic Hedtke, director of The Future artist residency

Places like the Visitor Center Artist Camp are enormously important to offer a time and place for artists to dwell and work close to nature. For me participating at the VCAC was a totally unique experience. I got a chance to visit at the local sawmill, make recycled handmade paper, visit Lake Superior, and turn a bowl in the wood workshop. I also made drawings of the Visitor Center's buildings. In addition, I learned several new things about the language and culture of the United States that I found very interesting.
Before my arrival to the United States, I prepared a presentation on Icelandic and Finnish arts and culture. I held this lecture at the Ewen Arts Festival on Saturday the 5th of August at Ewen High School. We had a Scandinavian potluck dinner, music, small art exhibition and a raffle to support the school’s art program. It was great to meet people with Finnish backgrounds and hear their stories.

Mari making handmade recycled paper

Mari with the VCAC crew

The preparations, planning and arrangements before and during the program made by Art Shape Mammoth were professional. Art Shape Mammoth planned and arranged all the transports around and from Minneapolis in such a way that I didn't worry about anything. The Cross-Cultural Artist Exchange program launched by Art Shape Mammoth added new experiences to my work as an artist. It gave me a chance to meet other artists, work together, and exchange our skills and knowledge that was so much fun.

Mari Mathlin, Iceland / Finland