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Norwegian Rosemaling
Platteville, WI


Ancestry: (sounds like, ANN-sess-tree) The ethnic origin of a person and his or her ancestors.
Asymmetrical: (sounds like, a-sim-MEH-tric-kul) Designs that are not even and balanced on each side.
Decade: (sounds like, DECK-ade) A ten-year period.
Etched: cut into the surface.
Folk Art: Art made in traditional ways by members of a cultural group who learned from other members.
Heritage: Traditions that are part of a group’s cultural identity that are passed from one generation to another.
Immigrant: Someone who moves from one country or region to another.
Profitable: Able to make a profit, to earn more than what you began with.
Revival: (sounds like, ree-VIE-vull) The start of doing something again after it had been lost or forgotten for a while.
Rogaland: A region on the southwest coast of Norway.
Rosemalers: (sounds like, ROSE-mall-ers) People who do rosemaling.
Rosemaling: Decorative painting from Norway that uses flowing lines, flower designs and subtle colors.
Smorsgasbord: (sounds like, SMORE-gus-board) A table at a restaurant or home with many different dishes of food to try.
Symmetry: (sounds like, SIM-meh-tree) Balance in a design because the elements on one side of the center match the elements on the other side.
Trait: Feature; characteristic.
Vesterheim: (sounds like, VESS-ter-hime) A Norwegian-American museum in Decorah, Iowa.
Vibrant: (sounds like, VI-brint) Pulsing with energy.
Woodenware: Wooden pieces like plates and bowls that are not decorated or finished.

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Journal Questions

QuestionWhat do you do that shows your unique style?

QuestionWhat do you think a “feathery style” of painting means?

QuestionDo you have art in your home so old that the colors might have changed over time?

QuestionHave you noticed the word “rose” in rosemaling? Are flowers and scrolls the only images in rosemaling?

QuestionDo you have to be Norwegian-American to have rosemaling as a cultural symbol? 

QuestionHow does your community show its cultural identity?

QuestionAre there any rosemalers in your community? What are their connections to the tradition?

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Resources For Teachers

These two books are excellent resources for understanding the art of rosemaling in the Upper Midwest: Norwegian Folk Art: The Migration of a Tradition by Marion Nelson (or the VHS version Norwegian Folk Art: The Migration of a Tradition) and Rosemaling in the Upper Midwest: A Story of Region and Revival by Philip Martin (Wisconsin Folk Museum. 1989).

Web ResourceThe Illinois Norsk Rosemalers Association has this article on the history of rosemaling.

Web ResourcePeruse these rosemaling supplies, equipment and books from Vesterheim Norwegian- American Museum.

Music Resource“Rosemaling Fever” is one of twelve songs on “In Full Speed,” a Norwegian-American humor album by Ole and Sven (otherwise known as Phil Dybdahl and Dave Nelson of Madison).

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Resources For Students

Take a look at these seven books by Lois Mueller on rosemaling techniques.  

Web ResourceWho are the rosemalers in your home town? Check with one of these rosemaling associations to find out.

Web ResourceOther Wisconsin artists along with Lois Mueller have won the Vesterheim Gold Medal too. Check this list. Maybe there’s a Gold Medal winner in your community!

Web ResourceLearn about another Wisconsin rosemaler, Bernetta Pritchard of Fall River, Wisconsin, in this article, Rosemaling, American Style.

Web ResourceCurious about all the different rosemaling styles? Rosemaler and Vesterheim gold medal winner Rhoda Fritsch explains them all.

Web ResourceLearn more about rosemaling and the other Norwegian folk arts of woodcarving and Hardanger embroidery at this site from a Sons of Norway lodge in Anchorage, Alaska. 

Photography iconIs there rosemaling in a public place in your community? Send us a photo and we’ll post it here!

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Text written by Nicole Saylor, edited by Anne Pryor.

Sources consulted include audio recorded interviews with Lois Mueller by Nicole Saylor (9/23/03) with materials housed at the Wisconsin Arts Board, a photography session by Twyla Clark (7/04), and Rosemaling in the Upper Midwest: A Story of Region and Revival by Philip Martin (Wisconsin Folk Museum. 1989).

Wisconsin Folks

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Lois Mueller



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