Norma Wangsness
Norma Wangsness

The unique rosemaling and portrait painting work of local artist Norma Wangsness is on display through May 18, in Preus Library on the Luther College campus.

A reception will be held for the artist in Hovde Lounge in the library at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 29. The reception is open to the public with no charge for admission.

Wangsness studied drawing and painting at Luther under legendary printmaker Orville Running. She also studied landscape and fine art portraiture with Maxine Pendry, portrait painting with Daniel Greene, airbrush painting with Sam Bogosian and rosemaling with Sigmund Aarseth.

It is at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah where she studied rosemaling extensively. Her signature became detailed landscapes and portraits.

In 2011, Wangsness was commissioned by the museum to create a plate in honor of Norway's King Harald V and Queen Sonja's most recent visit to Decorah. She painted a portrait of the Royal Couple and bordered it with rosemaling that matched the pattern of the Queen's bunad. Wangsness speaks of the opportunity to present the gift in person as, "one of the greatest honors and the highlight of my career."

For 25 years, Wangsness and her husband, Willis, operated Wangsness Photography Studio in Decorah. Her husband took the photos and she hand-colored them. Wangsness became a regional and national leader in photographic arts standards and education, earning many awards for her work.

Wangsness was born in Ossian and is the direct descendent of mid-17th century immigrants from Heddel and Telemark, Norway.