The story of the exhibition begins with clay and stone sculptor Corinne D. Peterson, 75, longing to go somewhere she could find ancient standing stones. Peterson considers the mysterious monuments an influence on her sculptures, which include "a lot of tall, pillar-like things."
"I knew that there were ancient standing stones in Sweden, and I thought, well my ancestors are from Sweden and Norway so maybe it would be smart to plan a trip there," said Peterson, whose sons, Tim and Stephen Klassen, also will have works at the exhibition.
The exhibition is scheduled to open March 22, with a reception planned that day from 6-8 p.m.
Peterson's sculptures in Entangled Routes are influenced by her seven-week trip to Scandanavia in the summer of 2012, "and the elemental forces at work in the formation and life of rocks," that she witnessed in her travels, according to her artist statement and conversations with the sculptor.
She made a point of visiting southern Sweden to see Ales Stenar, the ancient ship-shaped stone arrangement that spans some 67 meters.
Peterson told DNAinfo.com Chicago about a long train ride to the Arctic Circle, where she stayed in a hostel, hiked, saw many rocks and rivers, "and continued to be inspired."
Peterson spoke, still in awe, about spending hours watching the sun skirt the horizon, and how beautiful its glow looks on the mountains of Norway.
She was joined for two weeks by her son — Portland, Ore.-based collage artist Tim Klassen. Together, they also entered the lives of Nordic family members they had not met. Tim Klassen said he found a deep connection with the people and landscapes he encountered. His collages feature photos from his trip, some of which show his relatives in the region.
“Placing and pressing them into the wood, drawing and painting to integrate them in a new context, leads down some different roads of exploring history,” he explained in his artist's statement. “And so routes and roots layer upon each other; entangled perceptions of the past and present mingle, and grains of wood continue to regenerate new life.”
His brother, Stephen Klassen, is a Minnesota-based wood artist whose carvings and sculptures are featured in the Swedish American Museum exhibition. He did not travel with his mother and brother, but said he still channels his Scandanavian roots into the show.
“I see trees as guardians and inventors of continuity,” he explained in his artist's statement. “Their roots mine the deep darkness and build a green ladder toward the sun. For generations, Scandinavians have cherished the warmth of wood, radiating summer heat in the dead of winter."
For information about museum hours and admission fees, visit the Swedish American Museum website.