Antti Ojala, one of my Finnish relatives (the grandson of my great grandfather's brother), is a prominent painter based in Helsinki. When my family visited Finland in 2006, we toured his studio and got to know a little about his work. Many of his paintings are inspired by traditional pauper statues found outside of many churches in rural areas of Finland. These wooden sculptures double as collection boxes for the social services of the parish. Every since that trip I have been intrigued by his work and interested in the history of the statues myself.
As luck would have it, Antti's paintings are on display as part of two different exhibits in Finland this summer. One exhibit is in Lapua, and will open on the same as the family meeting, and another four and a half hours to the east,
Below is a postcard my parents received for the exhibit taking place in Lapua.
Along the way we will stop to see a Finnish castle in Savolinna and then continue on to Kerimaki, Finland. The exhibit is displayed in the largest wooden church in the world and will feature 42 of 180 pauper statues known to exist in the country. It is a rare opportunity and it couldn't be occurring at a more perfect time. You can read more about the exhibit here.
I plan to write more about the pauper statues on my return. I am in touch with a scholar on the subject and have reached out to the curator of the exhibit for an interview. I have no doubt this visit and subject will somehow find its way into the performance I am creating.
Ok- it's time to go to the airport. . . more from Finland!