Two Icelandic sculptors have collaborated to show their appreciation for Norsk Hstfest with a commemorative work of art.
Jon Steinolfsson from Iceland started the wood sculpture before Hstfest, and since arriving this week, he has been working with friend and fellow sculptor Tryggvi Larum from northern California to finish the piece. They presented the sculpture to Norsk Hstfest president David Reiten Friday morning.
Steinolfsson said the sculpture is their gift of thanks.
Jon Steinolfsson, left, and Tryggvi Larum hold their nearly completed collaborative sculpture of the Norsk Høstfest logo Thursday in Helsinki Hall. They are presenting the sculpture as a gift to Høstfest on its 35th anniversary.
"We are really grateful for this opportunity to be invited here," he said. "It's our donation to these people who have helped us. The best we can do is to make something for them."
This year is Steinolfsson's first year at Hstfest. Larum has been at three previous festivals.
Larum, who on Thursday received the Chester Award, Hstfest's highest honor, said Hstfest officials had called and insisted that he exhibit at this year's 35th anniversary event. Thinking of Steinolfsson, he agreed on one condition.
"I said if you have to have me, then you will have to have another Icelandic sculptor, and this year was the very first time that a native Icelandic artist has ever exhibited here," Larum said.
Steinolfsson called his Hstfest experience "fantastic" and was surprised but pleased to win an Exhibitor Award for Excellence in his first year.
"What I notice so much here is how friendly people are. I have never seen it before and I have been around the world. This just melted my heart," he said.
This is not the first time that the Icelandic sculptors have collaborated on a sculpture or an exhibition. Their relationship grew out of an acquaintance that first occurred over the Internet.
Steinolfsson said he set up a website to promote his work beyond the boundaries of Iceland, which is a small country with only about 320,000 residents. He had another motive for sending out feelers as well.
"I wanted to see if I was the only Icelander who is carving," he added.
It turned out he wasn't. When Larum saw his website and sent him a letter, Steinolfsson called back. It was the start of a friendship.
The two have displayed their works together at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. They put together the largest single exhibit of Icelandic wood sculpture anywhere a collection that would be too large for space available at Hstfest, Larum said.
Larum and Steinolfsson have the same goal to promote Icelandic culture, particularly in North America.
"We are a small but proud race," Larum said, noting that explorer Leif Ericson is its best known native son.
Steinolfsson said collaborating with Larum on woodcarvings has been interesting because he and Larum, although both Icelandic, differ in their carving styles. Larum specializes in Viking-age woodcarving. Steinolfsson puts a modern twist on Icelandic traditional carving. Their combined energy makes for enjoyable work, though, Steinolfsson said.
Their collaborative project for Hstfest was one they both could agree upon. It features the Hstfest logo with a "35th" to represent the year. The sculpture was made from English lime, American basswood and Brazilian walnut.