For years Lillemor Schou has been observing American art and style at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria and, as a native of Sweden, has been longing to share traditional Swedish artistic styles with a community that has given her so much inspiration.
Given the go-ahead by fellow Swede Ann-Kristen Bohlin, who is director of Friends of the Torpedo Factory, Schou has created "Swedish Fine Crafts," an exhibition of 15 Swedish artists' works that focuses on traditional Swedish design. "I have always been very proud of what we can do in Sweden and felt that I wanted to have Swedish input in this area."
The women emphasize the importance of traditional design in Swedish life style. They were taught crafts in school, acquiring an appreciation for form at an early age.
Many of the weaving, carving and glass-blowing techniques represented in the show have served as the foundation for Scandinavian design.
Bohlin believes that Swedes in the past have used materials such as wood, stone and wool because that was all that was available to them. Unlike artistic traditions that take a design and then apply it to a fabric or stone, Swedish artisans have been inclined to pursue the properties of glass, wood or metal. "The Swedish have always worked in terms of the materials first and then applied the appropriate design," Bohlin said.
Schou had an overwhelming response from artists in Sweden as the word went out that she was working on a show of this kind. Dozens were interested in having their work represented.
Schou and Bohlin agree that there is a strong interest among the young generations of Swedes to keep traditional folk art styles alive. They said that for the Swedish communities living abroad, sharing knowledge of these native crafts provides an important connection to their home country.
"Swedish Fine Crafts Exhibition" continues until Dec. 1 at the Torpedo Factory on the main floor. For details call 683-0693