Through the World We Pass

Ostrobothnian artists’ views on religion

8.10.2022 – 5.3.2023

The Through the World We Pass exhibition explores religion and religiosity, and the Christian cultural tradition in visual art. The exhibition’s main viewpoint is on non-ecclesiastical art from Ostrobothnia. Are the religiosity and religious movements, such as The Awakening (körttiläisyys) or Lestadianism, that have had, and still have, such a powerful influence in Ostrobothnian regions reflected in this art? Do traditions or the current era have an effect on the religious urge and its manifestation? What is contemporary spirituality like?


Religion is deeply interlocked with culture and society, but, in the present day with its kaleidoscopic cultural and religious traditions, relations between religion and culture have changed. In secularized contemporary Finland art has increasingly begun to take an interest in religion, but without necessarily being religious.


In their art the exhibition artists deal with their own faith or religiosity, religious customs and traditions, prejudices linked to religion, the external markings of religion, churches and churchgoers or spiritual values, the sacred, experience of the sacred and with its coalescing with everyday life. The artists’ themes are, for example, angels and devils, Adam and Eve, paradise, the gates of Tuonela (the realm of the dead), the scapegoat, followers of the Awakening, preachers, priests, cantors, funerals, prayer beads, Jesus, pauper statues, churches, the Madonna, and the Nativity story.

The host of the exhibition is a man known for his religiosity, Eero Nelimarkka. Also on display are works by artists including Veikko Vionoja, Arvid Broms, Arvi Mäenpää, Vilho Lampi, Eero Hiironen, Antti Ojala, Juhani Harri, Carl Wargh, Pekka Jylhä, Marita Liulia, Heikki Mäki-Tuuri, Juha Tammenpää, Mia Damberg, Tiina Laasonen, Teemu Mäki, Pauliina Turakka Purhonen, Tapio Hirvonen and Riku Riippa, all with ties to Ostrobothnianness. The chosen artists from the 17th and 18th centuries are the Ostrobothnia-based church sculptors Michael Balt and Eric Cainberg.

In addition to Ostrobothnian art, the exhibition also includes well-known depicters of religious subjects, such as Hugo Simberg, Tyko Sallinen, Venny Soldan-Brofeldt and Kuutti Lavonen.

The exhibition has been curated by Anne-Maj Salin.

Image: Eero Nelimarkka Hartaushetki Alaviitalassa, 1924 

Photo credit: Pasi Puskala