Today the Minnesota State Fair unveiled this year’s commemorative art by Marie Olofsdotter of Minneapolis.
The piece features a woman with long flowing red hair holding a basket of fresh vegetables and wheat. While the familiar State Fair agriculture building and ferris wheel are visible to the right, the scene is dominated by the Mississippi River in the front, and golden wheat fields in the background.
Olofsdotter says she was inspired by State Fair posters from the late 1800s that often depicted women involved in agriculture. She says with this piece she was striving to inspire “awareness and establish a loving relationship with the planet Earth.”
“I like to stay in good relation with the natural world. It is very healing,” said Olofsdotter in a recent interview. “Isn’t it critical that we as humans connect to the natural rhythms of the earth, to regain balance, in a world that seems very much out of balance? I can’t know for sure that my piece will help inspire a loving relationship with the earth, but by placing the focus on agriculture, open fields, the basket with goods, I’m expressing my own gratitude for the abundant gifts of the earth. Hopefully that spirit of thankfulness will prove to be contagious.”
Olofsdotter grew up in Sweden, and moved to the United States in 1981. Her style has often been linked to magical realism, depicting animals with human faces, or musical instruments dancing to their own tunes. She says it’s something that’s always been with her, like a sort of internalized language.
“I love to play with layers, perspective, and narratives in my work. The world is mysterious, seething with life, and using these tools help me capture some of that essence,” Olofsdotter said. “I am a very tactile painter, studied sculpture in Sweden, and I like to work with my hands. I cut and paste shapes when I create a design, and often just lay my hands on a piece to see what it feels like. It’s an intuitive process.”
Olofsdotter says she’s inspired by artists such as Frida Kahlo, Ana Juan and Irene Hardwicke Oliviere, among others. She’s also influenced by the indigenous art of Alaska, and the paintings of Matisse and Gauguin.
Olofsdotter’s painting will be on display at the Fine Arts Center during this year’s Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 22 through Labor Day, Sept. 2.