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Published April 09 2010

Artistic tradition

They’re far removed from their Norwegian ancestors and haven’t ever stepped foot in the Scandinavian country.

Yet two 22-year-old cousins are so intrigued by their Norwegian heritage that they’ve taken up a customary craft.

Inspired by their grandmother’s Norwegian rosemaling artwork, Carlie Brekke and her cousin, Alyssa, took a class two years ago on the art form.

“We’re really interested in the traditions,” said Brekke of West Fargo.

They didn’t just want to learn how to do the meticulous brush strokes or paint the intricate floral designs, but be able to produce their own work.

Two years later, they’ve perfected their rose-painted pieces and aim to sell the items in the community and online.

From plates to plaques and clocks to Kleenex boxes, the two young women have transformed cheap, unique thrift store finds into vibrant red, green and blue floral works of art.

Carlie’s 18-year-old sister, Tara, has taken over the role of business manager and assistant, sanding and painting a base on the pieces before her sister and cousin carefully paint on floral designs.

Their work follows the traditional Norwegian Rogaland designs and can take 20 to 25 hours to complete just one piece.

Their grandmother has already purchased their first piece, insisting on supporting the young women as they continue on the ancient art craft.

“It’s just something unique to our family,” Alyssa Brekke said of their passion for their Norwegian heritage.

In June, they’ll share that passion and work, selling items at Fargo’s Sons of Norway Scandinavian Arts and Crafts Show.

The money raised will continue the three young women’s zeal for exploring their heritage, helping fund a trip next year to Norway.

While there, they’ll likely take home even more inspiration for rosemaling.

“This is something I know I’m going to continue for the rest of my life,” Carlie Brekke said. “(Norway has) always played a big part in our family traditions.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515