Annika Waara For Leif Milling
Annica Waara painting. Foto: Leif Milling

Tradition meets modern thinking

Contemporary Sami art. It sounds rather exciting and curious. The traditional roots are there, but the forms of expression are constantly finding new paths.

Pictorial art
Just like all other peoples, the Sami have used pictures to take impressions in the past. Rock carvings, the symbols on the ritual drum and not least the ornamentation have been the forefathers' gifts to later generations of craftsmen and artists. Sami pictorial art uses both traditional old handicrafts and today's modern society as a starting point.

Turn of the century pioneers
Pioneers in Sami pictorial art include Johan Turi (1854 - 1936), Nils Nilsson Skum (1872 - 1951) and John Savio (1902 - 1938). All three were working at the turn of the last century, and they have made an indelible impression on Sami art history. You can read more about them in the fact sheets to the right. There you will also find a portrait of Áilluhas, Nils Aslak Valkeapää (d. 2001), a Sami multiple genre artist and cultural role model.

Breakthrough in the 1970s
It was not until the 1970s that Sami pictorial art made its real breakthrough and started to encompass more artists. Many believe that this is due to more Sami attending art training courses and to the fact that this period witnessed the development of an extremely strong commitment to preserving Sami culture and individuality. The Sami Artists Association was formed in 1979. This cross-border association is still active today, and contributes in a consultancy capacity to the production of decorations etc. Its office is situated in Karasjokk, Norway.

Modern artists
There are several modern Sami artists in Sweden. Some of the most famous ones are Britta Marakatt Labba, textile and embroidery, Ros-Marie Huuva, poet and multi artist, Barbro Poggats, painting and textile, Lena Stenberg, installation and photography, Per Enoksson, painting, Monica L Edmondson, glass, Folke Fjällström, duodji, sculpture, painting and Anders Sunna, painter, political art.

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