American Swedish Institute: The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson

Historical & Museum / Friday, April 20th, 2018

I was lucky enough to attend the preview party at the American Swedish Institute’s newest exhibit, The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson.
We began by stepping inside the “moss-covered”, fairytale-like imagination of Finnish artist/sculptor, Kim Simonsson, filled with life-sized, “moss-covered” children, animals and other mysterious characters.
The American Swedish Institute exhibition displays 35 selections of Simonsson’s work on view in the Gallery, Cultural Center and throughout the historic Turnblad Mansion.
The “Moss People” sculptures are the result of a unique technique combining stoneware, paint and green nylon fiber, which gives the figures their smooth and mossy surface.
Every sculpture is handmade and created in the artist’s studio in Fiskars Village.
In his book, “Tales of the Moss People,” Simonsson explains, “the name refers to children’s innate, sensible camouflage.
The moss green figures blend perfectly into their natural surroundings, just as a soft carpet of moss covers the ground, rocks and tree trunks and acts as a sort of protection.
In the Moss People world, lost and disconnected children, evoking different characters, gather in a Shaman Party, choose leaders and end up creating false idols.”
Inspired by the forests of Finland, his work has been exhibited around the world in locations including New York, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Belgium and Korea.
The night included creating your own ceramic creature with Northern Clay Center, watching improvised modern dance moves of Kelvin Wailey, meeting University of Minnesota plant scientists to learn about moss from around the world, hearing gallery conversations with the Artist in ASI’s Osher Gallery and Nelson Cultural Center, listening to a live set from Finnish singer, songwriter, guitarist and kantele (Finnish folk harp) player Diane Jarvi, sampling beer from Indeed Brewing and tasting crafted cocktails and curated appetizers from ASI’s award-winning FIKA Café.

If you are free this weekend, there will be two Exhibition Tours with the Artist where you can see his work and hear him talk about his creative process. 11 a.m. – noon OR 2 – 3 p.m. It is $15 ASI members / $20 non-members. If you aren’t able to check it out this weekend, The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson runs from April 21– July 15, 2018

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