Art from the Aho family is currently on display at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center in the Nelja Generations Gallery exhibit. “Nelja” is Finnish for four, and art from four generations will be on display in the exhibit at 24 North Main Ave. in New York Mills until September 4. The women with the art on display are Esther Aho, Shirlee Aho Daulton, Genevive Aho Keranen, Kim Smith, Sandra Daulton Shaughnessy, Katrine Karanen Savoie, Jody Hagenson and Kelly Hagenson.
â(Displaying our art together) is pretty awesome,â Kelly Hagenson said at the gallery‘s opening reception on Saturday, August 7. “It’s not something every family can do. It’s a really unique and fun experience. It’s something we’ll all remember too.”
Kelly and her mother, Jody Hagenson, have been making art together since Kelly’s childhood. Jody is an art teacher in Browerville, so the two did arts and crafts together while Kelly was growing up.
From a young age, she always knew that she wanted to be an artist thanks to the influence of her mother. She is now a graphic designer and photographer at the University of Minnesota. She and Jody both have photographs on display at the Cultural Center.
Kelly (left) and Jody Hagenson (right), her mother, pose in front of their art at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center. (Elizabeth Vierkant / Focus)
In addition to his photography, Jody also enjoys watercolor painting and jewelry making. âI touch a bit of everything,â she said. She was also influenced by creation from an early age. Her grandmother, Esther, and her aunt, Shirlee inspired her to keep creating while growing.
âBecause there are so many family members, it makes (this gallery) even more special,â Jody said. “Having this unique and special moment to make art is fun.”
Shirlee Aho Daulton, Jody’s aunt also found her calling through art. In what she calls her “first life”, she was previously a registered nurse. While she loved this job, she found herself drawn to art.
âMy neighbor said, ‘A teacher is going to give a painting class at night,’â Shirlee recalls, laughing. âI said ‘Oh yeah I’m going to paint’ which was kind of a joke because I didn’t have an art class. Well I painted like a maniac day and night. loved it. “
Shirlee Aho Daulton stands next to one of her pieces on display at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, which is an ink and watercolor print on paper that she handmade from plants and a block of wood. (Elizabeth Vierkant / Focus)
Now, in her “second life,” Shirlee runs The Arthouse at 35059 Boys Shore Trail on Rush Lake in Ottertail, where she sells her artwork. Some of his unique works are also exhibited at the Cultural Center.
She handcrafted some patterns, like a bird, out of clay, and then raku fired them in an oven, making the pieces black with smoke. She also paints and makes her own paper by hand from plants and a block of wood. Shirlee even does prints and weaves.
âA big part (of why I love art) is the process,â she said. âI don’t know what I’m going to end up with, but I start and think, ‘maybe this will work! “I like the learning process.”
Sandra Daulton Shaughnessy, daughter of Shirlee, has a gallery and studio called ClayHouse Pottery at 45671 348th St. in Ottertail on the same lake as her mother. Sandra is drawn to the more tactile side of art, like smelling wet, malleable clay and baking ovens. When she was painting, she would cut out her work and put it back together because she loved the hands-on process so much. Now that she is retired, she spends her time making pots.
Sandra’s journey with art actually started in Perham when she was 14 in a place called Poor Richard’s Pottery. In her studio, she learned to create pottery, and her high school art program only reinforced that passion. She ended up spending eight years in college, earning an MFA in clay.
Sandra Daulton Shaughnessy shows off her pottery at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center. (Elizabeth Vierkant / Focus)
While all of these women in the Aho family had interacted with each other’s art in the past, this was the first time they had seen all of their art together.
âI think it’s really cool,â Sandra said. “It’s pretty awesome that we are a group of women in the same family who are all drawn to creating visual ideas of our lives or ideas of what we love.”
Genevieve Keranen, Sandra’s aunt and Shirlee’s sister, also finds this gallery quite amazing. She enjoys weaving, making alcohol inks and knitting. Kim Smith, his daughter, has also made art all her life. She does a bit of everything because it is a hobby that she finds relaxing.
When these four different generations of the same family come together, they also make art together. They create art both as a hobby and as a family time. Jody said they are going to get together and make alcohol inks or prints with each other. She finds it to be one of the many things that makes her family unique.
âI’m looking around (in this gallery) and I’m like, ‘Huh! I know all these people, and they do some really amazing stuff,'” Kim said. âI am bound to them! “
The Nelja Generations gallery will be on display at the Cultural Center until September 4. The center is free and open to everyone. Their opening hours are Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 218-385-3339 or visit kulcher.org.