2015 Icelandic League of North American Convention

 The Lively Arts and Literary Scene

Ten Plays - Tíu leikrit by Guttormur J. Guttormsson, the Poet of New Iceland

The University of Manitoba's Department of Icelandic Language & Literature presents Ten Plays - Tíu leikrit by Guttormur J. Guttormsson, the Poet of New Iceland

Guttormur J. Guttormsson is second only to Stephan G. Stephansson in terms of well-known Icelandic writers from North America. Unlike Stephan, Guttormur was born in North America in 1878. He was born and spent his life at Víðivellir on the Icelandic River (Riverton) in Manitoba. He was a farmer, with writing as a passion until his death in 1956.  Though he was born in North America all his writing was done in Icelandic. He did visit Iceland and in Iceland, he is mainly known as a great poet. Besides poetry he also wrote a number of plays. They are special because it is said that he was probably the first Icelandic writer to include Impressionism and Expressionism in his works while most were content to use the common reality and romantic themes. During this session selected readings from these plays.

About the Presenters

Heather Alda Ireland, granddaughter of Guttormur J. Guttormsson, was born in Winnipeg. She has a B. A. and a Licentiate of Music (Gold Medal) from the University of Manitoba. She is the Honorary Consul General of Iceland in Vancouver and was awarded the Order of the Falcon in 2000.

Dr. Birna Bjarnadóttir holds the position of the Chair of Icelandic at the University of Manitoba and is Kind Publishing‘s Editor-in-Chief.

Elin Thordarson, a native of Winnipeg, is a graduate of the Department of Icelandic Language and Literature’s Masters Program at the University of Manitoba.

Christopher Crocker holds an MA degree in Icelandic language and literature from the University of Manitoba (2011) and is currently pursuing a PhD in medieval Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland. He was born in Newfoundland, Canada.


Gail Einarson-McCleery discusses the Donald K. Johnson Icelandic Film Series, which is organized by the Icelandic National League of North America, and funded by a generous grant from Donald K. Johnson, OC. Iceland has a thriving film industry for such a small country and the INL of NA strives to bring samples of films (subtitled in English), which would otherwise not be available in to North American Icelandic clubs. The series has featured movies and documentaries, and the current selection is the documentary The Last Days of the Arctic.

A Look at the Life of Bishop Guttormur Guttormsson
Stefan Guttormsson provides an informative and interesting look at the life of his Afi, who was born in Iceland in 1880 and immigrated to North America as a child. During his talk, he delves into the historic family from which Guttormur comes, explores examples of this man’s incredible intellect and his fascinating educational story.  If that isn’t enough, you will hear the story of the Krossavik Treasure and the “Mystery of the Spoons.” Stefan Guttormsson is a retired ob-gyn physician and lives in Duluth, Minnesota with his wife Rosemary. They have established the Guttormsson Family Foundation to provide scholarships for U.S. students participating in the Snorri program.

Highlighting Judge Grimson
Gudmundur Grimson was born in Iceland in 1878 as the youngest of 13 children. In 1882 his family came to the Icelandic settlement in Pembina County and homesteaded near Milton, North Dakota. Learn how he managed to get the laws changed in Florida relating to the brutal treatment of prisoners and helped a major newspaper win a Pulitzer Price. This was no small accomplishment while serving as states attorney in a small North Dakota town.
Presenter Steingrimur “Stony” Steinolfson shares many other stories about this judge whose portrait still hangs in the Cavalier County Courthouse in North Dakota. Stony is Gudmundur’s first cousin, three times removed, and has studied and revered the jurist all his life. Stony grew up in Mountain, North Dakota and is a member of the Icelandic American Association of Minnesota.
Icelanders and Washington Island
Richard Purinton presents an overview of Washington Island, Wisconsin, and the Icelandic immigrants who settled there. His focus will be on the Arni Gudmundsen family. Richard Purinton is a forty year resident of Washington Island and is the author of several books on local and regional history. His wife, Mary Jo (Richter) is the great granddaughter of Arni Gudmundsen and most of their family still resides on the island.

The Icelandic Churches in Vesturheimur...A Virtual Trip
Gudmundur “Gummi” Vidarsson and the late John Rutford undertook a project in 1994 to photograph all the Icelandic churches in the USA and Canada.  After more than a decade, the final result is ready for publishing.  Along the way they received support from the Christianity Committee in celebration of 1000 years of Christianity in Iceland and staged an exhibit in Iceland’s Gerdarsafn Museum in 2000.  Gummi describes the project and his experiences revealing the stories behind the pictures. Gummi is a professional photographer from Iceland and a graduate of the Brooks Institute of Photography.
Learn more at: http://gudmundurvidarsson.tripod.com/

Words Worth Keeping: The Fragile Heritage Project
Ryan Eric Johnson presents an overview of the Fragile Heritage Project, an initiative to collect and share Icelandic heritage manuscripts, personal writings and letters from North America. The goal of the project is to make this information available in an online library of Icelandic manuscripts at http://handrit.is. This website was created as a shared space for Icelandic heritage containing a multitude of documents from ancient sagas to Halldór Laxness’s letters. The goal of the project is to collect stories and other writings currently located in many different physical locations across North America. Once completed, the site will be a helpful resource for students, writers, translator, family genealogists and researchers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean searching for more information on the written traces left by immigrants from Iceland.
The project has received support and assistance from the Eimskip Fund, the Manitoba Heritage Grant Program, the University of Manitoba Icelandic Department, the National and University Library of Iceland, the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen and the Honorary Council of the Icelandic National League of Iceland. Ryan Eric Johnson is currently a Ph.D candidate in history at the University of Iceland. His undergraduate studies include a B.A. in Icelandic Studies at the University of Manitoba and a B.A.  in Icelandic as a second language at the University of Iceland. His graduate studies at the University of Iceland also include an M.A. in Icelandic Literature.

Everything you wanted to know about Lopapeysa — and more! – Rosemary Guttormson


Workshop Description:  The lopapeysa, Icelandic for the traditional knitted yoke sweater, has become a symbol for the Icelandic knitting tradition. Using clips from a DVD made by well know knitter, Ragnheidur Eiriksdottir, her teacher when she took  her Knitting Iceland workshop in 2010, Rosemary will show Icelandic areas known for their special designs, Icelandic sheep and goats, and the women involved in the knitting and yarn business in Iceland.  She will also provide some history of earlier knitting techniques before lopapeysa.

Bio:  Rosemary Lange Guttormsson was born in Dubuque, Iowa in 1947.  She grew up with an interest in creating art, drawing and painting; taking her first art lessons at the Dubuque Public Library.

Rosemary lives in Duluth, MN with her husband.  Rosemary started painting with watercolors in 1989 and is a member of the Arrowhead Art Club, Artists of Minnesota, Lake Superior Watercolor Society and a signature member of Minnesota Watercolor Society. Rosemary became interested in Icelandic Lopi knitting in 20010. She is currently working with two other artists to form Lake Superior Artrepenteurs, which will organize local art fairs. Their first event, Art Festival at Brighton in August 2014 was a great success.

Icelandic Sweater (Clothing) Fashion Show – Rosemary Guttormsson

Cooking Icelandic Style via Le Cordon Bleu
New Nordic cuisine has been rising in popularity in recent years. It has its roots in Denmark but has been spreading around the world for the last nine years. For his presentation, Kristjan Thors focuses on the origins of this part of the culinary world and how it has affected the Icelandic market. Kristjan Thors is a culinary student attending Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis/St. Paul. After earning a degree in political science, he realized his passion had more to do with food than politics and decided to follow his dream. Kristjan has worked in a few small-scale dining places in Iceland and has had experience with food production in all stages from eggs and angle through demise and frying.

Picturing Iceland

Iceland is a photographer’s dream and maybe you’ve been fortunate enough to capture some of these images on a visit. For those of you who have been collecting photographs and don’t know what to do with your stockpile, take this opportunity to learn about some unique ways to use them. Nancy and Gail will demonstrate a variety of ways photos can be become something creative and memorable – from canvas to calendars, placemats or postcards. Emphasis will be on using images from digital cameras and cell phones, but photos from film cameras can be used as well.

About the Workshop Leaders
Nancy G. Johnson had a career in photography at the University of Minnesota. Since her recent retirement, she looks for every opportunity to grab her camera and chase the light. Her maternal grandmother, Thora Ledding, was born in Iceland, and was a member of the Hekla Club for over fifty years.

Gail Murton has been honing her photographic skills over the last seven years.  She enjoys photographing the northland near her cabin in Finland, Minnesota.  When not at her cabin she is often driving back roads looking for those wonderful moments that catch her eye.

Nancy and Gail have been friends for years and carve out any chance they can to hit the road and make images.  They were thrilled to spend a week exploring the Westfjords in May of 2014.  With any luck, they'll be back!


Iceland Landscapes

Iceland is a place of stunning landscapes, both natural and designed. In this session, members of the American Society of Landscape Architects - Minnesota Chapter (ASLA-MN) will share with you some of the valued landscapes of this magnificent land, trends in the design of great places, and what Icelandic landscape architects are exploring. ASLA-MN just celebrated World Landscape Architecture Month in April by building connections with landscape architects in Iceland through their professional organization Félag Islenskra landslagsarkitekta (FILA), The Federation of Icelandic Landscape Architects.


Iceland Connection

This quarterly literary magazine, which celebrates the cultural heritage of people of Icelandic descent, reaches out to all parts of the Icelandic-North American cultural community. Signy McGinnis will make a presentation on behalf of the Icelandic Connection magazine and hopefully will bring some magazines.

About the Presenter

Signy McGinnis was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, but moved to Arborg, Manitoba as a child where she grew up speaking Icelandic at home with her mother and sister. She attended Icelandic camp as a kid and has returned to the camp in recent years as an instructor. Signy works in supportive housing for seniors. In her spare time, Signy enjoys writing. She is an associate editor for Lögberg-Heimskringla, and contributes articles to the Icelandic Connection.


Sharing Talents with Clubs Here and Across the Ocean

Learn about the INL of NA’s International Visits program and how the application and selection process works. This effort makes it possible for people to travel North America and Iceland where they can share their expertise or talents with clubs in the respective countries. It’s been a very successful exchange and they will share some of these stories.

About the Presenter

Alicyn Goodman has served on the INL of NA Board for three years and has been on the Scholarship committee for two years. In addition, she is involved with the Logberg-Heimskringla newspaper and the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter of the IODE (a national women’s charitable organization) in Winnipeg. This is her first year working with the International Visits Program.



This year the newspaper has a new editor and he will join us with updates about this newspaper that covers the entire Icelandic community in North America. Its publishing history goes back to the early years of Icelandic settlement.

About the Presenter

Stefan Jonasson became editor of the Lögberg-Heimskringla at the beginning of this year after a long career as a Unitarian minister. By avocation he is a folklorist and historian.

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