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Explore Nordic Folk Art

This section of our website includes information on artistry in wood, textiles, and paint found in Nordic American churches surveyed from 2017-2019 by Partners for Sacred Places. Our work focused on churches of Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Swedish, and Norwegian heritage located in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan.

Woodwork & Carvers

Most Nordic American wood carvers employed relief carving, either with a flat surface or molded like sculpture. In their new homeland, these artisans had to work in different types of wood—primarily oak and walnut—and were introduced to new ideas and motifs.

Painting & Painters

Nordic American churches often feature altar paintings as the sanctuary’s focal point. Most altar and decorative painting in historic Nordic American churches was based on well-known works by formally trained Western European painters, or on popular European decorative painting styles.

Food, Festival, & Recipes

The Preserve Nordic Heritage Churches Project focuses primarily on architecture and decorative arts. But we also paid attention to food events and associated ethnic celebrations listed on church websites, Facebook pages, and other publications.

Traditional Textiles

While woodcarving was a male art form, traditional textiles were often crafted by women. In general, textiles were produced for practical use, with decorative handwork reserved for special occasions.

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