Skip to main content

You are here

  • Mar 12, 2014

ASI and American Craft Council Present: A Night of Social Wonder - April 9

A Night of Social Wonder, the American Swedish Institute (ASI)’s new public conversation forum, returns on Wednesday, April 9 with an evening designed to inspire problem solving outside the box.

Karen Bit Vejle, the Danish-Norwegian psaligraph, encountered a life changing problem five years ago when diagnosed with chronic fatigue disorder.  After years of working in a fast paced Norwegian television station caught up with her body, how would she continue to make a living?  The self-trained artist reprioritized and embarked on a new career focused on bringing the ancient art of papercutting to the modern world. Her solution to an insurmountable problem transformed not only her own story but created an international arts movement.

Across industry and communities, problems may be different, but finding solutions are often similar in taking a ‘creative’ approach.  Moderated by 89.3 The Current’s Mark Wheat, A Night of Social Wonder challenges a panel of national and local innovators to ask: how are artists finding solutions to seemingly insoluble problems? 

  • Matthew Shilan, a paper artist and designer who is working alongside scientists at the University of Michigan, solving the world’s energy harvesting issues using paper folding.
  • John Davis of the Lanesboro Art Center examines how are rural industries and development plans affected by investing in arts initiatives?
  • Noël Raymond of the Pillsbury House + Theatre with limited resources for early education, nutrition and crime prevention, why are social service and community development organizations embracing theater and the arts as offerings for their clients throughout the city of Minneapolis. 
  • Janet Koplos asks what makes people invent new directions in their own creative fields? Janet profiles makers, past and present, who have innovated and changed their own fields- the ceramics business, the textile industry and glass manufacturing and architecture - and even influenced the culture at large.

Co-presented by the American Craft Council.

A Night of Social Wonder: Artists Finding Solutions to Seemingly Insoluble Problems is inspired by Papercut! The Incredible Psaligraphy of Karen Bit Vejle, on view at the American Swedish Institute through May 25.

Moderated by 89.3 The Current’s Mark Wheat.

Tickets: $10 ASI and ACC members, $12 general public.  Available online at or call (612) 871-4907.




A Night of Social Wonder Panelists


Matthew Shlian is an artist, designer and teacher. After graduating from Alfred University in 2002, Matthew spent three years working as a paper engineer in the field of commercial design. There he made movable paper contraptions, from popup books to greeting cards to artist books and kinetic sculptures. In 2006 he received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Currently he operates a design studio in Ann Arbor Michigan, teaches Paper Engineering at the University of Michigan and works as a visiting research scholar at the University’s Material Science department. His work can be seen at


John Davis has moved people of all ages to ponder big questions and small communities to accomplish big things. John Davis is Executive Director of the Lanesboro Arts Center, and Director of the Kids Philosophy Slam. He has committed more than two decades to nonprofit leadership; prior to his current position at Lanesboro Arts Center, he founded the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, the Great American Think-Off and the Kids Philosophy Slam. John Davis is the Recipient of Minnesota Council of Nonprofits 2011 Visionary Leadership Award.


Noël Raymond is the Co-Artistic Director of the Pillsbury House + Theatre where she has helped lead, develop and implement arts programming to promote community vitality since 1995. Noël has worked extensively as an actor and director in theaters locally and nationally and is currently a core member of Carlyle Brown and Company.  She has served on the Boards of Directors for the Multicultural Development Center; the Burning House Group Theatre Company, which she also co-founded; and the South Minneapolis Arts Business Association (SMARTS).   Noël is the 2014 chair of the Minneapolis Arts Commission.

Janet Koplos is a journalist and art critic long associated with Art in America magazine, formerly as a staff editor and now as a contributing editor. She is the co-author of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft (2010) and author of Contemporary Japanese Sculpture (1990) and a number of other books, as well as more than 2,500 articles, essays and reviews in more than two dozen periodicals in the U.S., Japan and Europe since 1976. She is currently working on a book on utilitarian pottery based on interviews with 160 potters across the U.S.

share this