Koli Cultura

American performance artist feels at home in Koli



Artists and cultural figures are drawn to Koli from Finland and the world over. Cherie Sampson, a performance artist from Missouri, spent a three-month period from April to June at the Ryynänen artist residence in Koli. Cherie’s maternal family has roots in Finland, and she has visited the country many times. She feels particularly at home in Koli.



-          I have only spent a short time at Koli, yet I feel that I am part of the community, as if I had been here for years. I grew up in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. The landscapes there are very similar to Finland, which is why I feel at home here on so many levels, Sampson explains.


Sampson got to know Koli Cultura last spring when she performed an excerpt from her performance entitled Her Blue Sea Fire at the WOIMAA KULTTUURISTA (“Power from Culture”) workshop. She believes that Koli Cultura can benefit Koli economically, and that the region has a clear need for this kind of project.


-          Koli Cultura has many aspects which are beneficial and appealing both to the locals and visitors - including many indirect effects. It will be a cultural centre, a meeting place, a model for environmentally conscious and environmentally friendly construction, and so forth. This is a visionary, future-orientated and interesting project,” Sampson muses.


Inspiration From Nature and the Kalevala Epic


According to Sampson, Koli is an ideal environment for artists and art-making. The small and tight-knit artistic, cultural and environmental community provides inspiration and makes even strangers feel welcome.


-          Koli offers an amazing environment for art and artists. I believe that Koli specifically attracts personalities who appreciate peace, simplicity and the beauty of nature, and artists who seek a peaceful and uncomplicated place to live and work.


Sampson also sees Koli as a challenging environment. Its difference and isolation make it a special place. The awe-inspiring nature of Koli, and in particular its dramatic elements and diversity appeal to Sampson.


-          Koli and the surrounding areas form a very powerful landscape with varied topography and waterways. I am particularly inspired by the rocky terrain, the mossy spruce forest with its almost ancient feel, the tall pine trees of Pärnälahti and other areas, the emptiness, the slashed and burned woodlands, the snow-capped trees in the winter and, of course, the dramatic changes between light and darkness.


Sampson has sought inspiration for her art from Kalevala, the Finnish national epic poem. Her interest in the epic comes from her research into her European ancestry and identity.


-          Kalevala is an important literary work from the artistic point of view. It has many descriptive chapters with metaphors which provide excellent material for artistic inspiration for all kinds of artists, Sampson points out.