Last summer I visited Finland where my grandparents grew up. I wanted to understand what they’d left behind, and perhaps learn more about them. They were Swedish speaking people who lived in a predominately Swedish area of Finland and I have always been impressed by their courage to make such a big life decision. While there, I was fascinated by the Finnish language and its long words full of double consonants and vowels. How does one say words like this?
Swedish and Finnish are both spoken and used throughout Finland. City names are written in both languages. I was also in love with the graphics of the Finnish flag, a bold blue cross.
“Genealogy Flag”, 25″x15″, embroidery floss on linen, 2016
I made this work stitching Finnish city names in the blue of the flags of both Sweden and Finland. In between the rows of city names I embroidered the names of my ancestors going back 300 years. I met a Finnish cousin through the DNA site, 23 and Me, who helped identify this side of my family tree. Geographically establishing this part of my identity was strangely meaningful.