I’ve been privileged to call Norway my home for well over a third of my lifetime, moving from the USA in 2002. The adventure started in a tiny community by the sea, located in Nordland, and since then, has included the Oslo-area, Honningsvåg and Tromsø.
Each of these unique places has impacted and formed my artwork, my writing, and most importantly, me. As I reflect over my work, the undoubtable influence of 11 years in the North Cape region is apparent.
Having an artist’s paradise as a home has resulted in hundreds of pieces – collages, mosaics, watercolors, acrylics and handcrafts, as well as books, newspaper articles and a blog dedicated to this fascinating region. My former gallery, Once Upon a Dream, was located along the picturesque Honningsvåg harbor, the perfect spot to share my artwork with tourists and locals alike.
Environmental art projects have also stemmed from life at 71 degrees North. One of my favorite things to do is go hiking. On our family’s first expedition to a lovely, remote beach, we were shocked by the harsh reality that met our eyes – heaps of trash washed upon the shore. My oldest daughter, 5 at the time, whispered, “It’s sad here, Mommy.” And I couldn’t have agreed more.
On that day, I began brainstorming ways to use artwork to address the issue of ocean pollution and communicate the importance of environmental awareness. As a result, several projects emerged: “One Step at a Time”, “Treasures from the Sea Handcrafts”, “10,000 Bottle Caps”, to name a few.
In 2015, an uninvited intruder invaded my idyllic world. I was diagnosed with cancer. Due to the nature of my disease, I have been undergoing treatment since that time.
Thus, living with cancer has also become an instrumental influence in my artistic expression, and given me a passion for exploring mental health issues through art. In 2018-2019, “The Unknown” exhibition, focusing on life’s journey, toured from Honningsvåg to Oslo.
In addition, after frequent visits to Vardesenter, the cancer center run jointly by University of Northern Norway Hospital (UNN) and The Norwegian Cancer Society, I donated a large collage, as an expression of my gratitude for the important service they offer patients and their loved ones.
In 2020 and 2021, I had the opportunity to combine my artwork in celebrating World Mental Health Day. I currently have several projects exploring this important topic. I believe my arctic surroundings inspire my artwork, regardless of the chosen topic. Violent, raging winds can just as quickly turn to crystal clear skies, and I often find the views before me, mirror my internal thoughts, feelings and emotions.
There are no words to express how grateful I am for the gift of art. It has been my lifeblood, as I navigate the tumultuous journey of life with cancer.
As I look to the uncertain future, there is one thing I am certain of: Honningsvåg is HOME, and creating artwork is my JOY.