Karen Keenan

Folk Art School

Vesterheim Folk Art School

Karen Keenan

Karen Keenan

As a child, Karen was interested in her mother’s hair brooch from Våmhus, Sweden. Years later, with many needlework projects under her belt, Karen read about Swedish women entrepreneurs from the 1800s who traveled from their homes in Sweden to major European urban areas to make hair jewelry for others. At the time, Karen was unaware of where this growing curiosity in hairwork would lead. Then, in 2018, supported by a Reviving Folk Arts in the Midwest Fellowship through the American Scandinavian Foundation, Karen traveled to Våmhus, Sweden, to apprentice with master hairworker Joanna Svensson. In October 2019, the Nordic Center in Duluth, MN featured an exhibition of hair jewelry, historical artifacts, and resources curated by Karen called Woven: Traditional Swedish Hair Jewelry. Following the exhibition, Karen began teaching others how to make table-made hair bracelets at the Nordic Center and at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Karen continues to be fascinated with hairwork, accepts commissions, and is eager to share what she knows with others. When not doing hairwork, she can be found playing flute, making and teaching pottery, or digging in the garden.

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