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  • Apr 25, 2012

"In Our Nature: The Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck" Opens June 30

MINNEAPOLIS — April 25, 2012 — To celebrate the opening of the Nelson Cultural Center, the American Swedish Institute (ASI) has organized an exhibition of work by our generation’s greatest Swedish textile artist.

In Our Nature: The Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck is an assemblage of 18 large-scale tapestries by legendary trompe-l'oeil weaver Helena Hernmarck and will be on display in ASI’s Nelson Cultural Center and Turnblad Mansion June 30–October 14, 2012. The monumental works included in the exhibit immerse the viewer in lush blooms, rich green forest scenes, and sunny poppy pastures. In Our Nature will also include 15 “Nordic Forest” themed tapestries created by “Team Hernmarck,” a group of advanced weaving students of Hernmarck from Sweden, Iceland, and Minnesota.

Hernmarck’s work represents a lifetime of closely honed weaving technique which combines intensely sensitive attention to color with one-of-a-kind combination of textures creating layered, shaded effects. Her approach to handling color and creating depth in her weavings is so unique that it has come to be known as the “Hernmarck Technique.”

According to internationally known textile designer, author and collector Jack Lenor Larsen, “Of the artists working in tapestry today, Helena Hernmarck stands without peer. Her work, selected for scores of fine public spaces, is seen each year by millions of viewers. For them, these pieces often become the focus and persona of familiar places.”

Helena Hernmarck, born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1941, was inspired at a very early age by Sweden’s design and textile traditions. In her young adult years of study and travel, her excitement about Pop Art and photorealism translated into a growing body of works that interpreted contemporary subjects using traditional materials and techniques. She soon settled in New York, highly sought after for her commissioned pieces created expressly for settings designed by some of the world’s greatest architects, such as I.M. Pei and Partners, Philip Johnson, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde Museum in Stockholm.

Helena Hernmarck has operated her own weaving studio for 45 years, first in Montreal, Canada, then England, New York, and currently in Connecticut, where she designs and executes tapestries of monumental size for corporate lobbies and other large spaces. Revered by textile practitioners and collectors, her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and numerous other prestigious museums. Her work can also be seen in public and private spaces such as the Time Warner Center in New York City, Purdue University, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and many other corporate and governmental offices, including Minnesota’s Department of Transportation.

The Hernmarck tapestries in In Our Nature are on loan from corporate and individual collectors, Hernmarck’s own collection, and major art museums including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Detroit Institute of Art, and Cleveland Museum of Art. In Our Nature: The Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck will be on display at ASI June 30–October 14, 2012 and is included with general museum admission. Support for the exhibit and related programs comes from the Anne Ray Charitable Trust and Swedish Council of America. The exhibit will be on view in the new Osher Gallery in the Nelson Cultural Center and in galleries in the Turnblad Mansion.

June 30 also marks the first official public display in the U.S. of “Folk Costume Details,” the tapestry by Hernmarck that ASI commissioned for permanent display in the lobby of the new Nelson Cultural Center.

Related Events

“In My Nature: How I Work” Illustrated Talk by Helena Hernmarck and Artist Reception

Thursday, July 26 — 7 p.m.

A special artist’s talk and reception will be held on Thursday, July 26 at 7 p.m. In her illustrated talk, Helena Hernmarck will discuss the works on display in the exhibit and her unique weaving technique. The reception includes hors d’oeuvres, and there will be a cash bar. $15 ($12 ASI members). Reservations (by calling 612-871-4907) are strongly encouraged.

“Alice Lund Textilier and Swedish Textile Art During the 20th Century: A Story of Craftsmanship, Design and Women Entrepreneurs” Talk by Frida Lindberg

Friday, July 27 — 7 p.m.

Frida Lindberg is the owner of Alice Lund Textilier in Sweden, the studio where many recent large Hernmarck tapestries have been produced. $9 ($7 ASI members). Reservations are strongly encouraged; call 612-871-4907.

Related Workshops

In conjunction with the exhibit, Helena Hernmarck will teach a workshop on her weaving technique at the American Swedish Institute in late July. The workshop, which will bring weavers to ASI from around the U.S. and Canada, is full and applications are no longer being accepted. In collaboration with the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, ASI is also offering the following workshops on weaving in conjunction with the exhibit:

Scandinavian Rag Rug Weaving Workshop
Monday, June 4–Friday, June 8 ― 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Weavers Guild of MN (WGM) (Information session will be held on Monday, May 21; registration deadline is Friday, May 11)

Beginning Inkle Weaving Workshop
Saturday, June 23 & Sunday, June 24 ― 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the American Swedish Institute (ASI)

Beginning Floor Loom Weaving Workshop
Friday, Aug. 24 ― 5–9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25 & Sunday, Aug. 26 ― 9 a.m.–5 p.m. at the Weavers Guild of MN

Ready, Set, Weave: Make a Wool Scarf Workshop
Saturday, Sept. 22 & Sunday, Sept. 23 ― 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the American Swedish Institute (ASI)

The American Swedish Institute (ASI) is a vibrant arts and cultural organization, museum, and historic home located at 2600 Park Avenue near downtown Minneapolis. ASI attracts more than 65,000 people each year for tours of the landmark 1908 Turnblad Mansion, exhibits, classes and events that connect the community to contemporary Nordic culture and cultural heritage. Founded in 1929 by Swedish immigrant newspaper publisher Swan J. Turnblad, ASI serves as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden. Museum hours: Tue., Thu., Fri., Sun. 12–5 p.m., Wed. 12–8 p.m., and Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Museum admission: $7, $6 ages 62+, $4 ages 6-18 and students with ID. For more information, visit


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