February 15 – May 26: Beauty in Form and Function: The Duodji of Jon Tomas Utsi

15.02—26.05 2024

3rd floor, Kin

Jon Tomas Utsi is a duojár, a Sámi crafter, who for thirty years now has worked with forming raw materials into useful objects and tools. He makes niibbit [knives], gárit [bowls], skáhput [boxes], giissát [chests], nállogoadit [needle cases], and sálkorat [salt bottles]. All of these objects are rooted in Sámi life in Sápmi. As this way of life has often involved relocating from one place to another, the designs of the objects tend to favor economy of weight and volume. Utsi, like any duojár, is familiar with the entire lifecycle of an object, from the resourcing of materials and production of the item, to the actual use of the end product.

Utsi combines reindeer herding with duodji, just as his father and grandfather did before him. Alongside the Sámi languages, duodji serves to strengthen the bonds between different generations, and thus holds an important place in Sámi culture. These objects have been documented in both writing and illustrated materials that date back to the 1500s, with their shapes and forms remaining consistent to present day. However, a duojár, like Utsi, will always add their own personal touch to the things they make. Any aspect is subject to change, as long as it is made in accordance with tradition. Techniques, materials, working methods, and ornamentation combine to give each piece a specific, local character.

This exhibition is part of the museum’s multi-year programming on “Hand, Heart, and Brain,” which revolves around how present-day artists’ utilize and adapt old crafts and skills for contemporary and future use.