Artist profile: The Magic Realism within Steinunn Steinarsdottir

Icelandic artist Steinunn Steinarsdottir


Steinunn Steinarsdottir’s art leans towards the spiritual, and is often times feminist in content and deeply personal. She skillfully crafts wool paintings of iconic Icelanders. These faint images, stark in contrast capture the fading memory of Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir who was the mother of women’s suffrage and Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson a pagan high priest. Her etchings are of past relatives and in her installations she uses household ingredients, again showing us her ability to shift easily between disciplines.

In the installation below she illustrates the lack of regard for women´s work by using salt as her medium to recreate a hand crocheted traditional lace pattern on the exhibition floors. Throughout the course of the exhibition the salt is dispersed by visitors that neglected to see the artwork.

Salt installation, hand crocheted traditional lace pattern photo by Steinunn Steinarsdottir


Paying close attention is a theme that reoccurs in Steinunn Steinarsdottir´s art work. Steinunn Steinarsdottir’s studied Fine Arts at the Academy of Arts Myndlistaskólinn in Akureyri, in Iceland, and graduated in the spring of 2016. Her work has been shown at various venues in Iceland including a large scale mural at the Sundlaug in Akureyri.


Mural by Steinunn, Heiðdís Hólm og Jónína Björg Helgadóttir at the Sundlaug in Akureyri, photo by Steinunn Steinarsdottir


Her etchings and wool portraits are beguiling and transcendental. The essence of time is distinct in her work. She is loyal to her subjects and exhibits her integrity in her meticulous modus operandi no matter which materials she selects.

“I usually have a faint idea which develops while I am actually in the process of working with my materials to translate what’s inside. The end result can sometimes change completely from my original thought. Often times I work out ideas that I can connected with handcraft and feminism. I use Icelandic wool in its original natural colors. I love wool as a medium because it is alive and especially love the mystical and enigmatic qualities of the gray color scale. It’s gratifying to find new ways to use traditional materials and connect the handcrafts of the past to new concepts.

Sometimes I use many photos, old and new to construct and form my thoughts. The photos can also be direct references or inspiration. I’m interested in people who are fading away in time. I work from old photos that will one day be completely faded and the people will be forgotten. I try and capture that feeling. “


Wool Painting of Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, photo by Steinunn Steinarsdottir

Wool painting by Steinunn Steinarsdottir, photo by Steinunn Steinarsdottir

Sculpture “Felted bust” by Steinunn Steinarsdottir


Michelle / Kunstportal