Sacred Places Summer 2022 - Page 6

Folk Art Projects in Nordic American Churches

by Emily Sajdak
Senior Project Manager , Partners for Sacred Places

Hallson Icelandic Church sits in a central location inside the Pioneer Heritage Center Complex of Icelandic State Park in Northeast North Dakota . Founded by Icelandic immigrants in the late nineteenth century , Hallson served as a spiritual home for its immigrant community for over 100 years before being moved to the state park where it now represents the history of the twenty-two ethnic groups that settled in that area .

In mid-July 2021 , over two hundred people from the communities surrounding Icelandic State Park and Cavalier , North Dakota gathered to celebrate the history of Hallson and to engage with four artists chosen to create new folk art pieces for the church . Each artist spent time talking with the visitors and demonstrating their craft , with some expressing an interest in learning the art forms . Everyone was excited at the prospect of seeing these folk art pieces completed at the dedication event in Spring of 2022 .
Historic Nordic American churches are deeply embedded in many communities in the Upper Midwest , and their buildings , community engagement , ethnic traditions , and food events are significant civic assets to the larger community . Over the past five years , Partners for Sacred Places has been working with churches in Nordic communities across the region to help them preserve their buildings and sustain their continued presence in their communities .
The commissioning of new folk art builds on an earlier phase of Partners ’ Nordic Churches program , which involved working with a cohort of 17 churches to carry out repair and restoration projects with local craftspeople , utilizing matching
Louise Bath , a Vesterheim Gold Medalist in Rosemaling , teaches workshop participants about the history and basic techniques of Norwegian rosemaling at Historic Trondhjem Church in Lonsdale , Minnesota ( right ), in April 2022 . Emily Sajdak
TOP : Detail of a door panel painted in the Trondelag style of rosemaling by Louise Bath . The door is housed at Historic Trondhjem Church .