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Art: Works by Helmi Juvonen on exhibit at Lightcatcher

“Eskimo Adam and Eve” is one of the works exhibited in “Helmi’s World: Symbol, Myth, Fantasy” at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher June 27-Oct. 11.
“Eskimo Adam and Eve” is one of the works exhibited in “Helmi’s World: Symbol, Myth, Fantasy” at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher June 27-Oct. 11. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Helmi Juvonen, who died in 1985 and was known simply as Helmi, was a prolific artist whose creativity embraced diverse media. She was drawn to the ceremonies and arts of Northwest aboriginal culture, and developed a rapport with the chiefs of the Lummi, Swinomish, Muckleshoot, Makah and Yakama tribes.

Helmi devoted years to studying and drawing Northwest Coast Indian and South Pacific objects in the Washington State Museum (later the Burke Museum). Native American culture nurtured her creative spirit and empowered her to transcend ordinary life, poverty, and decades when she was committed to Northern State Hospital in Sedro-Woolley.

“Helmi’s World: Symbol, Myth, Fantasy,” opening Saturday, June 27, at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher, 250 Flora St., presents 65 works — paintings, drawings, prints and ceramics — from the museum’s collection of her work, about 250 objects overall.

Some of her finest pieces are highlighted, including paintings of petroglyphs from Central Washington and prints based on the Makah Wolf Dance experienced at Neah Bay.

The exhibit, which shows through Oct. 11, suggests the complexity of Helmi’s vision by displaying some or her most unusual work, where images and symbols from a variety of cultures converge. The influences of Mark Tobey, Pablo Picasso, Scandinavian folk art, and Judeo-Christian and Buddhist iconography are also explored.

Details: whatcommuseum.org, 360-778-8930.

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