August 2021: Virtual Nordic Events & #WITMonth

Virtual events are still going strong despite reopening across the country. This month continues to see plenty of virtual opportunities to cook, read, watch, make, and learn all things Nordic which might help fill the void until you’re able to travel there.

Vesterheim Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa, has seen great success with its online programming, and they are dedicated to continuing the growth of programs in an online format. Registration for online classes through 2021 is now open and you can find full information and sign up here.

Of particular interest to me this month is the Norwegian Film Festival presented by The Clark Art Institute and Images Cinema in Williamstown, MA, in conjunction with the current exhibition Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway at The Clark. It is a four-week series of recent Norwegian films. All films are free to view virtually.

  • August 4–10: Astrup: Catching the Flame (2019), biopic directed by Pål Øie
  • August 11–17: Hope (2019), drama written and directed by Maria Sødahl
  • August 18–24: What Will People Say (2017), drama directed by Iram Haq
  • August 25–31: The Men’s Room (2017), an award-winning music documentary directed by Petter Sommer and Jo Vemund Svendsen

August is also Women in Translation Month, an annual initiative to raise awareness of and promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. Why not pick a female author from a Nordic country, or elsewhere, and experience their culture and history through their eyes? See My 10 Favorite Books for Women in Translation Month or Norwegian Women in Translation for #WITmonth for ideas, or consider reading a book by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1909) and then attend one of the two “Knowing Selma Lagerlöf” virtual events hosted by the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN, to learn more about her life and work (August 18 & 25, scroll down for details).

What events pique your interest?


Run Like a Viking Virtual Challenge (August 1-31)

Grab your sword, shield, and Viking helmet because it’s time to run like a Viking August 1 through 31! Since Run Like a Viking is virtual, you can complete it anywhere in the world. Choose among a 5K, 10K, or half-marathon challenge and then walk, run, bike, skate, kayak or snowboard your distance. Grab your family and stroll a 5K. Or challenge your friends to a 10K bike ride. Or strap on those sneakers, fire up the treadmill, and polish off a half-marathon. However you move counts toward your mileage. Participants will receive an exclusive T-shirt and other goodies. All proceeds benefit the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA.

Demo: Swedish Saft with Erin Swenson-Klatt (Thursday, August 5, 1:00-2:00 p.m.)

Saft, or berry and fruit juice, is a favorite drink in Sweden, and it turns out it’s an easy and fun project for kids and adults alike to make at home – no trip to IKEA needed! Erin will demonstrate a couple recipes that make use of local berries and fruit, and even share tips on how to stash your saft away for a taste of summer later in the year. This is a live virtual class taught over Zoom designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the recipe at home at a later date.

The Summer of Suspense: The Killing (Thursday, August 5 – Sunday, August 8)

In collaboration with streaming service Topic, Scandinavia House is offering a sneak peek of the first two episodes of Season 1 of the Danish Nordic Noir series, The Killing (Forbrydelsen). Follow the unprecedented Detective Sarah Lund as she takes on a series of complex murder cases, each with political implications, and watch as obsession consumes her. Season 1 kicks off with Detective Lund putting her retirement plans on hold when a young girl is found brutally murdered in a car linked to prominent politician Troels Hartmann. As she tracks the intricate web of suspects, Sarah becomes increasingly consumed by the case. Screenings of The Killing will continue with Season 2 (episodes 1 & 2) from August 12-15 and Season 3 (episodes 1 & 2) from August 19-22.

Film Screening: Riders of Justice (Friday, August 6 – Sunday, August 8)

Riders of Justice by Danish director Anders Thomas Jensen (released 2021) follows recently deployed Markus (played by Mads Mikkelsen) who is forced to return home to care for his teenage daughter after his wife is killed in a tragic train accident. But when a survivor of the wrecked train surfaces claiming foul play, Markus begins to suspect his wife was murdered and embarks on a mission to find those responsible. “A darkly humorous revenge thriller with satisfying depth and a dash of savory quirk, Riders of Justice makes another compelling case for Mads Mikkelsen as an all-purpose leading man.” Screening takes place on the Elevent site; purchase your ticket via Elevent.

Summer 2021 Virtual Folk School Series – The Decorative Folk Paintings of Sweden: Dalmåleri and Bonadsmåleri (Sunday, August 8, 10:00-10:30 a.m. PST)

This class is a part of National Nordic Museum’s summer-long Virtual Folk School Series. You do not need materials or supplies for these classes. Of the many folk arts that flourished in Sweden during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, painted wall hangings are probably the most original to Sweden. These charming and sometimes comical paintings depict stories told in painted scenes on the walls and ceilings of Swedish peasant homes. Join Pieper Bloomquist for an overview of these two painting styles, what inspired the artists to create them, and how they are used to create the images of Sweden that we cherish today.

Painting as a Harvest: Nikolai Astrup’s Bountiful Landscapes (Tuesday, August 10, 6:00–7:00 p.m. ET)

In this illustrated conversation, arborist/writer William Bryant Logan and painter/horticulturist Rebecca Allan discuss the intertwined labors of Nikolai Astrup’s life—farming and painting—as a model for re-establishing an intimate connection between people and the land. Reflecting upon how the artist and his wife Engel cultivated fruits, vegetables, flowering plants, and trees as a source of sustenance for their family, they explore how the farm-garden reverberated in Astrup’s singular images of planting, tending, and harvesting the gifts of the earth in early twentieth-century western Norway during the Industrial Revolution. Focusing on a selection of paintings from the exhibition and notes from Astrup’s motif books, Logan and Allan highlight the relevance of Astrup’s life to our time, reminding us of the enduring value of observing the climatic and chromatic qualities of each place and season. Event is free.

Nordic Spirit Classics: Second Friday Series (Friday, August 13, 7:30 p.m. PT)

The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA, is hosting a monthly series of Nordic Spirit Classics, a virtual program of selected presentations from 21 years of Nordic Spirit Symposia. This month, from Scandinavians in the Old West, learn about the life and work fo Birger Sandzén, 1894 immigrant to Bethania College and the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas, and “van Gogh of the West”. Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link.

Sisters of the Brush: Nordic Women Painters in the Impressionist Era (Sunday, August 14, 10:00-11:00 a.m. PT)

How can one explain the astonishing number and skill of Nordic women painters in the final decades of the nineteenth century? Enjoying an enviable degree of camaraderie with their male colleagues at a time when Victorian mores restricted opportunities of sister artists elsewhere, Scandinavian female painters lived in Paris, joined anti-establishment artist collectives, and pursued successful careers. Was there something different, more egalitarian about Scandinavia that enabled this singular situation? Join National Nordic Museum for a talk with Dr. Michelle Facos in conjunction with the exhibit Among Forests and Lakes: Landscape Masterpieces from the Finnish National Gallery.

Introduction to Finnish (Sunday, August 15, 12:45-2:45 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Finnish language, but not yet ready to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited about a new language? This two-hour virtual introductory workshop offered by the American Swedish Institute is the perfect way to get a feel for Finnish — pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

Introduction to Swedish (Sunday, August 15, 3:00-5:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Swedish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Sweden? This two-hour virtual introductory workshop offered by the American Swedish Institute is the perfect way to get a feel for Swedish — pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

FamilieKlubb: Try Weaving! with Laura Demuth and Evelyn Galstad (Register by August 17)

Looking for a fun way to explore Norwegian culture with your family on your own schedule? FamilieKlubb is for you! Learn some Norwegian words and phrases and a new Scandinavian handcraft each month, and do it when it works for your family’s schedule! Weaving is a traditional handcraft explored by many cultures throughout history as an innovative technique for producing textiles for the home, clothing, or even to tell a story. Several distinctive styles developed throughout Norway, and you will learn a bit about some of them during this experience. The best thing about this class is that you can watch the video and open your kit materials to explore weaving whenever it is most convenient to you and your family members. Your registration provides you with a kit that includes everything you need to do family handcraft at home.

Knowing Selma Lagerlöf (Wednesday, August 18, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

Delve into the life and accomplishments of Nobel prize winner Selma Lagerlöf with Ingela Eilert Haaland of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN. Learn how folk traditions helped form her writing style, discover her role in film production, and see how she received inspiration from worldwide travels far and wide. Discover what lasting contributions Lagerlöf’s writing have made upon literature to this day, and celebrate the writer whose statue graces the gardens of the American Swedish Institute.

Book Talk with Arthur Herman (Thursday, August 19, 5:30-6:30 p.m. CT)

Join Norway House for a book talk with Arthur Herman via Zoom as he discusses his newly published work, The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World (publication date August 3, 2021). In this book, New York Times best-selling historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist Arthur Herman delivers a sweeping epic of how the Vikings and their descendants have shaped history and America.

FamilieTid: Family Cook-Along with Nevada Berg! (Saturday, August 21, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT)

Gather the family in the kitchen and get ready to cook along with celebrated food writer and author Nevada Berg from North Wild Kitchen. Learn how to make one of her family’s favorite Norwegian recipes and experience the joy of cooking together with loved ones.

Demo: Folk Painting Figures and Clothing (Saturday, August 21, 1:00–3:00 p.m. CT)

Painting people is a challenging part of dalmålning and bonadsmålning (Swedish folk painting), yet without people it’s difficult to tell a good story! In this demonstration-style class, Pieper will give you tips to make this a much less challenging task than it seems. Learn how to make and use templates for your paintings and how to get the faces “just right.” The demo will cover inspiration for clothing and decision-making for posture. You will take away tricks to try at home and skills on how to study and practice.

Homemade Rye and Oat Crispbread (Knäckebröd) with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, August 21, 1:00-2:30 p.m. CT)

While crispbread might seem like just a cracker, Scandinavians see it as another form of bread and serve it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack in between meals. Want to learn to make your own crispbread at home? Join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen for a hands-on opportunity to bake a batch of rye and oat crispbread in your own kitchen (and learn some delicious and inventive ways of putting that crispbread to good use!). Participants will be provided with a shopping list and recipes prior to class. This class is designed as a cook-along class. Enrollment deadline: Saturday, August 7.

Nordic Talks: Finding Solutions to Food Waste (Saturday, August 21, 2:00-3:00 p.m. PT)

The National Nordic Museum is hosting Nordic Talks, a series sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers, focused on the theme of food security and sustainability. In this fourth and final talk, panelists from Washington state and the Nordic countries will discuss ways in which the issue of food waste can be tackled and inspire the audience to act independently to limit food waste. The talk is free, but you must RSVP to receive the link.

Summer 2021 Virtual Folk School Series: Weaving – The Coverlets of Norway (Sunday, August 22, 10:00-10:30 a.m. PST)

This class is a part of National Nordic Museum’s summer-long Virtual Folk School Series. You do not need materials or supplies for these classes. Warm covers at night are essential during a Nordic winter, but the coverlets families used to place on their bedsteads were often highly decorative as well. Join Katherine Larson, author of The Woven Coverlets of Norway, as she describes many of the bed covers once commonly found in Norwegian homes. You’ll become acquainted with a variety of coverlet types, learn some weaving basics, and see a demonstration of several coverlet techniques.

Summer Book Club: The Complete and Original Norwegian Folk Tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe (Wednesday, August 25, 7:00–9:00 p.m. ET)

This month wraps up The Clark Art Institute‘s summer book club series featuring novels by Norwegian authors. Participants have discussed how these authors’ treatment of identity and sense of place resonate with the life and work of Nikolai Astrup, whose paintings and prints are presented in Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway. The summer book club series concludes this month with The Complete and Original Norwegian Folk Tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe, compiled by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe and first published in 1841. Nikolai Astrup read and deeply admired these stories as a child. A new translation of the tales by Tiina Nunnally introduces readers to giant trolls, talking animals, and other remarkable beings that inspired Astrup in his creation of magical landscapes.

Demo: Swedish Summer Seafood (Wednesday, August 25, 6:30-8:00 p.m. CT)

From fermented herring to crayfish parties, seafood is a great entry point to some of Sweden’s strangest and most fun culinary traditions. Join Patrice Johnson for an evening of tips and stories as she cooks through a seafood-centric menu. From apps to main courses, she’ll share examples of fresh, smoked and preserved fish and shellfish dishes with light and easy takes that could be put together into a celebratory menu or could stand alone as a simpler weeknight supper.

Unraveling the Knot Basket: Investigating the Scandinavian Knutkorg (Wednesday, August 25, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim’s Jane Laurence and Fred Livesay as they team up to examine a unique basket construction called Knutkorg (knot baskets), which were often decorated and used as special Sendingskorg (visiting baskets). Using artifacts from the Vesterheim collection; the Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish digital craft archives; specimens from private collections; and examples of their own work, they’ll examine the roots of this unique craft in Scandinavia and the Baltic states in the mid-1800s. Additionally, they’ll share their research that delineates a continuity of this craft and an amazing connection to several communities in northern Minnesota in the early 1900s.

Knowing Selma Lagerlöf (Wednesday, August 25, 7:00-8:30 p.m. CT)

Delve into the life and accomplishments of Nobel prize winner Selma Lagerlöf with Ingela Eilert Haaland of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN. Learn how folk traditions helped form her writing style, discover her role in film production, and see how she received inspiration from worldwide travels far and wide. Discover what lasting contributions Lagerlöf’s writing have made upon literature to this day, and celebrate the writer whose statue graces the gardens of the American Swedish Institute.

Introduction to Tapestry Weaving (Thursdays, August 26 – September 30, 5:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

Curious about how tapestries are made and ready to try your hand at pictorial weaving? This most ancient form of textile creation is rich with history and invitation for creative expression. Master weaver Laura Berlage will take you on a multi-week journey into the magical world of tapestry, where you will learn to transform warp and weft into a peaceful sunset landscape, measuring approximately 10 x 10 inches. Enrollment deadline: August 12, 2021.

Book Talk: The Real Valkyrie by Nancy Marie Brown (Tuesday, August 31, 2:00 p.m. ET)

Join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a virtual book talk with Nancy Marie Brown on her new book The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women, out today from St. Martin’s Press. With moderator Anna Dís Ólafsdóttir, she’ll discuss the compelling new novel bringing the world of valkyries and shield-maids to vivid life.


Which August events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

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