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Art Show connects Finlandia residents, workers to personal and cultural pride

For some, sharing their work was a first; others showed their last

Finlandia Village hosted its popular annual art show on November 20. Approximately 30 participants took part, and pieces featured included photography, sculpture, painting and stained glass. All the work was created by residents, staff and volunteers at Finlandia Village. 

It's an important part of fostering cultural and personal pride, explained cultural co-ordinator Kristiina Skoberg. This year, Skoberg was able to place a student from Finland at Finlandia Village. Mea Mattila  worked with residents full-time. During the course of her placement, residents created beautiful paintings and collaborative projects that evidence engagement, thoughtfulness and creativity. 

One of the pieces Skoberg displayed at the show was a framed Finnish flag created from residents' hand stencils. Smaller pieces also included the traditional Finnish blue colour and one was painted by a 100 year-old resident.   

“They are testimony to the fact that you don't have to be dead in a nursing home. You can still have a productive life,” Skoberg said. “You just need somebody to guide you and take you to that special place where you are painting and listening to music.”
Finlandia resident Orest Solonyka completed an acrylic spill piece on canvas just two days before the art show. Generally, Solonyka collects art instead of completing it, but upon seeing the technique online, he was inspired to try his own hand at the unpredictable method. 

“The paint just spreads itself as it cares to,” Solonyka said. 
Acrylic pour painting uses a combination of  acrylic paint mixed with pouring medium that extends paint across surfaces. The effect can be as colourful, dark, varied or simple as one desires. Solonyka's first try produced what looked like a silver dove, surrounded by a dark scene intermingled with gold and white elements. 

Solonyka admitted feeling nervous while creating the piece as the method was new to him, but he was not anxious about the show. Personal Support Worker Tammy Gaudet on the other hand, struggled with nerves before sending the email that would confirm her table until the very end.  

“Once I sent the email, I knew there was no turning back,” Gaudet said. She had never shared her art with the public prior to Tuesday.  In Gaudet's time off from work at Finlandia, she paints whimsical scenes and images that take inspiration from nature and the spirit of the holiday season. The paintings are framed nicely, and show a breadth of talent that reflects the work of someone who is clearly devoted to their craft.

Public, fellow staff and residents seemed to enjoy it and before long, trepidation had been replaced with confidence and pride.

Gaudet was joined by her daughter Melissa Gaudet who describes herself as her mother's biggest fan. 

“It gave her a lot of confidence today to see how much people are appreciating her work,” Melissa said. 

Her mom chimed in shortly after, “My face has been red so many times tonight. It was nice, it made me feel good. Like, 'Maybe you're a little bit better than you think you are,'” Gaudet said. “It was nice to hear nice compliments.” 

Artistic talent thrives Finlandia Village and the Art Show is expected to return next year. Those who would like to encourage residents, staff and volunteers are welcome to attend.