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Nordeng to be featured artist at Arts Center in May

  • The CCAC will be holding a reception for artist Mary Nordeng Friday, starting at 5 p.m. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The artwork of Mary Nordeng will be on display at the CCAC throughout the month of May. (Photo submitted.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

Creativity runs in Mary Nordeng’s family.

Her mother knits and crochets baby gifts for friends and relatives. One grandmother excelled at every craft imaginable, Nordeng said, while the other grandmother instilled in Nordeng a love of quilts.

Her great-grandmother taught her how to sew Barbie doll clothes on a toy sewing machine.

So it’s no surprise Nordeng grew up with an appreciation for the arts. It’s in her blood.

“I’m pretty much self-taught,” she said. “For quilting, I’ve taken a lot of classes at national and international shows, but as far as a formal art education, I haven’t had any formal training.”

Nordeng, from Rose Creek, Minnesota, will be the featured artist for the month of May at the Charles City Arts Center. Her art will be on display at the center throughout the month.

Her husband, Rod, has been a familiar name in and around Charles City for the last couple of years, as he is the administrator at Floyd County Medical Center.

Mary was in Charles City at the Arts Center on Wednesday, setting up her display.

“I am very impressed. It’s a lot more spacious than I thought it would be,” Nordeng said.

Nordeng works with quilts and fiber art and also paint pouring. The CCAC will be holding an artist reception for her starting at 5 p.m. Friday, and the public is welcome to meet Nordeng and chat with her about her work.

“I hope that everybody sees something they like,” said Nordeng, whose exhibit will feature a variety including quilts, fiber art pieces and examples of acrylic pouring.

“I brought a little bit of everything. I’m a little nervous, but pretty excited,” she said.

This is Nordeng’s first solo showing, although she participated in the Austin Artworks Festival last year, where she received an award of excellence.

“That was pretty exciting, for my first dip into the art world,” she said.

Her quilts have won several awards, and her work has been featured on the covers of magazines in Great Britain, Australia and the United States. Nordeng has taught at numerous machine quilting shows around the United States, and she has published four books.

“I got into quilting when my children were very young, and became addicted to quilting,” she said. “I started long-arm quilting in 1999 and there’s been no turning back since then.”

Eventually Nordeng learned to dye cotton fabric, and now also dyes silk and wool. Playing with dyes and fabric paints was so rewarding for her that acrylic painting seemed like the logical next step in her progression as an artist.

“Acrylic pouring is a fad right now, and it’s more difficult than what it appears to be on YouTube,” she said. “There’s a lot more to it than just dumping paint onto a canvas.”

Nordeng has been pouring for about two years now, “perfecting her techniques” and is teaching the discipline.

Nordeng said she enjoys the freedom of fluid painting and the unpredictability of the final product.

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