I was born in the US to one Norwegian parent and one American. Although I took part in Norwegian culture, I felt I never had access to it. Through my work I am able to search for personal and cultural acceptance. I question the boundaries of national identity by fabricating new patterns for Norwegian textile techniques. By diverging from traditional patterns, I am no longer creating textiles that are authentically Norwegian, but are instead authentically Norwegian American.
Authenticity in the context of Norwegian textile involves two major components: technique and place. While I may be able to replicate the technique and regional patterns found in these textiles, I will not be able to create the connection to place. Folk artistry and local tradition are symbols of national pride in Norway. I take pride in my identity, but traditional Norwegian textiles will never be authentic to my experience because they do not represent my home in the US. Since I cannot achieve the authenticity of local textiles, I choose to manufacture my own.
Place influences the design and motif of Norwegian textiles, but the strong handwork traditions are what bring them to life. I view the process of fabricating authenticity as a kind of trial. I put in a great amount of effort to produce something “traditional” but my labor is futile. I can never create something that is authentically Norwegian for doing so would be erasing my life in America. I question if my efforts are enough for my Norwegian friends and family. But the real question is if it is enough for myself?