Joyce Koskenmaki (Artist-in-Residence, 1998)

One artwork photo shows a moon reflecting on the water and another shows a moose
"Moon on the Water", 31 x 31 oil on canvas, 2000                                                               "Moose", 48 x 52 oil on canvas, 1998

Joyce Koskenmaki


Isle Royale Reflection

"My summer at Isle Royale was the year I moved up to the Upper Peninsula. I had been teaching at the University of Wisconsin/La Crosse before moving here to teach at Finlandia. It was the perfect transition for me to be back to living in the north woods where I had been raised.

I wanted to paint a moose! I had been doing large paintings of animals for years. I heard there were lots of moose at Isle Royale. I looked and looked, and finally on my last night there I found one on the other side of Hidden Lake. Too far away for a good picture. But I watched him for hours and when I got back to Hancock I did one the best paintings I have ever done, of a large moose on a 5x5’ canvas. But all those days of searching led me to look more closely at the landscape, to do drawings and paintings of the beauty I saw around me. I will ever be grateful for that opportunity to immerse myself again in the beautiful north woods, so pristine at Isle Royale, and to become part of it all, which I still am, living in Hancock and walking in the woods almost every day."

- Joyce Koskenmaki, December 2018

Joyce Koskenmaki Portrait
Joyce Koskenmaki

Artist's Statement

"My work reflects my surroundings, here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The particular kind of north woods landscape, its trees, rocks, lake, waterfalls, animals are what imprinted me as a child and to which I came back in 1998, looking for that which felt like home.

I was trained as an abstract expressionist painter in graduate school. This grounding has carried me through a lifetime of finally working with imagery. Shapes and negative spaces form the skeleton which holds the meanings, both articulate and inarticulate, of my expression. For two years, recently, I did nothing but small abstractions. Now I approach my imagery through that work. Birch trees continue to be my subject matter: symbol and metaphor for our relationship to that spirit underlying nature. And animals have continued to appear in my work in various guises. One direction had to do with the animals of the Kalevala, the old Finnish epic; the beauty and mystery of its imagery is haunting. Why does the gray dog keep barking?"

She was an Isle Royale Artist-in-Residence from July 24th to August 8th, 1998. You can see more of Joyce's work on her personal webpage.


Last updated: February 15, 2020

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