May’s Artist Interview: Minnamaria Nurmi

Posted on 6.5.2014


At high school age Minnamaria Nurmi (s. 1984) decided to become an artist. She studied first in MAA Art School in Helsinki, after which she returned to her native region Turku and studied graphics in Turku Arts Academy.

”I would have wanted to study everything. Finally I chose graphic arts, because it was the closest to drawing. Drawing has always been important for me”, Nurmi explains.

After graduating from the Arts Academy in 2010 Nurmi has concentrated on drawing. She likes that drawings often finish quickly. She prefers to do small scale drawings that can come about by surprise.

”Sometimes I just begin to draw something spontaneously without thinking about the motive beforehand or setting any expectations. I may for instance start drawing an eye, and suddenly I notice that something could come out of this”, Nurmi says.

Nurmi values the uniqueness of her works, and that’s why she rarely makes sketches of them. Nurmi believes in hidden meanings of the works that derive from the subconscious and that the artist doesn’t necessarily notice putting in the works. Nurmi can find new meanings from her works after many years.

”I draw influence from everyday situations and moments. My drawings have to do with my own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes the works may have their origin in something that is pissing me off, and I try to get over it by drawing. My works are thus autobiographical, but the viewers can interpret them freely”, Nurmi says.

The imaginative works include horror elements, and their human figures with their big eyes seem at the same time truly queasy and a little amusing and naïve in their emotions. According to Nurmi the works deal with humanity and different feelings, like fear and anxiety, through black humor.

”But I don’t solely treat negative things. Happiness and the search for it, and loving, are also important motives for me, although these naturally also have their dark side”, Nurmi says.

Nurmi’s graduation exhibition Havaintoja elämästä (Observations about life) was shown in 2010 in Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova. Nurmi reveals that she has experienced having exhibitions as exciting and, as many beginning artists, she has been wondering, whether the audience would be interested in her works.

”While studying in MAA and Arts Academy, everything seemed so new. It was a good time in many regards. You could get supervision and critique from the school; you could try new things and chat with fellow students. Afterwards I think that it was a really safe environment, whilst after graduation many artists can feel insecure”, Nurmi ponders.

According to Nurmi doing things together can make it easier to begin a career as an artist. Nurmi herself took part in an artist group called Valkoinen Valas (White Whale) that held group exhibitions in years 2006-2009. The group was formed of students from MAA Art School, and together they tried out different styles while working on mutual themes.

”After graduation my identity as an artist has at times been lost from view, but i feel that it is starting to come out little by little. That’s why I don’t so much look back on my time of studies, but I’m starting to accept myself as an artist. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I do art, and I don’t find any simple answer. Drawing is for me a way to communicate with myself and understand my life. Long breaks in creation lower my spirits and then I feel stuck”, Nurmi reflects.

In year 2013 Nurmi took part in Turku Artists’ Association’s 89th annual exhibition in which occasion she was chosen to be the Artists’ Association’s Artist of the year. The choice was made by contemporary art researcher Katve-Kaisa Kontturi and the artist Susana Nevado who held in high regard her emotional expression, the exceptional technical ability and strong and secure use of line.

“I’m quite critical towards my work. I don’t need praising, but I’m the type of person that needs a little encouraging from others. This year has been good for the development of my identity as an artist, and it feels like the pieces are falling together. I feel optimistic”, Nurmi smiles.

Minnamaria Nurmi’s exhibition Piirustuksia – Drawings in Gallery Å 23.5.–15.6.2014. Opening on Thursday 22.5.2014 at 6pm. Welcome!

Pictures og works:

Text and pictures: Enni Niemelä
Translated by Pirkko Holmberg

In honour of Turku Artists Association’s 90-years-jubilee the association presents one of its members per month throughout the whole year. Artists Association’s apprentice Enni Niemelä interviewed the members in year 2013. The interviews are published the first Tuesday of every month on Turku Artists Association’s webpages and on Facebook.