Snowball Effect 2021
Oulu Museum of Art 27.11.2021–30.1.2022

Snowball Effect 2021 brings together eight artists who work in Northern Finland and share an attitude of exploration and experimentation towards art. Their artworks focus on the position of the human being in the continuum of time; the fundaments of our life form, the relationships between human beings and the world, and the traces we leave of ourselves.

The artists featured in Snowball Effect 2021 are Markku Akseli Heikkilä (1959, Rovaniemi), Riikka Keränen (1984, Ristijärvi), Sanna Krook (1976, Oulu), Kirsti Muinonen (1943, Oulu), Johanna Pöykkö (1977, Oulu), Eija Ranta (1980, Hailuoto) and the artist couple Raisa Raekallio (1978 and 1979, Kittilä) and Misha del Val.

Featuring photography, painting, location-specific sculptures, moving images and motion, Snowball Effect 2021 takes over the galleries on the first floor of the Oulu Museum of Art. Connecting, overarching themes include coming together, coexistence, materiality, location, passing of time, and motion. 

The big gallery on the first floor of the museum teems with the full variety and endless play of shared lives. Kirsti Muinonen’s paintings and Riikka Keränen’s sculptures imagine potential worlds and scrutinise the connections that define the world around us. In the paintings of Raisa Raekallio and Misha del Val creatures coming from different backgrounds and starting points come together in shared situations, while the textile installation by Johanna Pöykkö evokes childhood games and safe places. 

The works displayed in Tasku and Gallery C are meditations on the fundaments of human existence and the traces we leave in the world. The Tasku gallery features a series of photographs shot by Sanna Krook in the industrial town of Pattijoki and the nearby Raahe steelworks that focus on the sense of home and the role of the human beings as the shaper of their environment. Gallery C is shared between Markku Heikkilä and Eija Ranta, both artists of temporary circumstances and explorers of time and memory. Heikkilä’s photographs are documents of artworks created in nature, while Ranta’s motion artworks take place in the spectator’s body, memories and motion.

Snowball Effect is an exhibition that showcases contemporary art from North Finland. The artists are selected through an open call for applications, and the final selections are made by an invited curator. The regional exhibition has been arranged in rotation by the art museums of Oulu, Rovaniemi and Kemi and the Aine Art Museum in Tornio since 2012. The 2021 exhibition is curated by Pauliina Leikas, whose merits include working as the head of the Mustarinda Association in the Eastern Finland province of Kainuu.


Banner and top: Kirsti Muinonen, Swamp, 2021, acrylics and oil on canvas. Photo: Mika Friman.

Snowball Effect 2021 – Process online material
Oulu Museum of Art 1.12.2021–31.1.2022

How is an artwork born? How to create art together? What does it mean to empty the mind?

This online material explores the working processes of the artists featured in the exhibition. The material includes themed, research-oriented artistic tasks suitable for art, geography, biology, philosophy, ethics, sports, music and performing arts classes. It features solo and pair activities as well as activities suitable for small groups and the entire class. Materials and time required are specified for each activity separately.

Keywords: artistic research, thinking, stopping to think, essence of place, listening, collecting, feeling, mapping, community, other species, nature, environment.

The online material has been created by regional art researcher Selina Väliheikki, curators of education Laura Lampinen and Mirka Kortesoja and university intern Neri Cruz Yrttiaho. Photos and video Mika Friman.



Kirsti Muinonen

Kirsti Muinonen (1943–) is an artist who lives and works in Oulu. The subjects of her paintings emerge from the layers of the mind. She paints the invisible world, things that are still partly unexplored or unconscious. Her techniques are tempera, acrylics, watercolours and oils.

For her, producing a painting is a slow, meditative process that involves a purification, an emptying of a kind. Kirsti Muinonen contemplates and develops her ideas for paintings in her mind slowly. She does not do any sketches.

As her objects of interest, the artist who has already worked a long career names beekeeping, astronomy, different species and the parallel/internal worlds of the human mind. Painting gives Kirsti Muinonen a permission to engage in utopias and imaginary worlds, and opens a possibility for participating in the ongoing discussion.


Kirsti Muinonen tends bees at her summer house. Taking care of the nests requires knowledge on how the bee colonies work. In her words the bees give out miraculous energy.

Eija Ranta

Eija Ranta (1980–) lives in Hailuoto. They are a movement artist whose material consists of bodily movement, the experience of motion of the living body and the body's experiential knowledge. They have created movement artworks where they have explored the bringing of physical expression to unconventional contexts, such as creating a performance for free-range cows and calves.

Ranta is interested in making the invisible visible. What they mean with this is paying attention to the imperceptible. What are the things that happen in our everyday lives but escape attention? As a movement artist they engage in bodily research where the meanings and the shapes of the subject in focus are articulated through the human body. Body and motion are instruments of study and channels for the subject explored.

Riikka Keränen

Riikka Keränen (1984–) lives and works in Ristijärvi. She is a visual artist and a jack of all trades who works in a playful, intuitive register in dialogue with the rich selection of materials available in the world. She likes to say she thinks with her hands, and likes to focus on physical work. For Riikka Keränen, thinking with her hands is dialogue between the material and the self, “primate study” so to speak: how does the human hand define the shapes they can produce?

Searching for and collecting the materials for the artworks is an important part of her artistic process, a way of sketching the artworks, of getting to know the materials and learning their textures. She is interested in the architecture of animals and the co-existence of plants. Many of her sculptures borrow their shapes from the world of animals and plants. 


Riikka Keränen’s inspiration photo for Heterotrophs, 2021 (artwork featured in Snowball Effect 2021). Photograph: Riikka Keränen

Johanna Pöykkö

Johanna Pöykkö (1977–) lives and works in Oulu. She is a visual and a textile artist who explores the role of the individual in larger wholes and the passing of time. Her artworks are textile-based spatial wholes that often assume the shape of an installation or a sculpture.

Pöykkö’s long-time material of choice is sheet fabric, which she treats using serigraphic methods. The everyday but intimate material is also a mediator of information, human memories and the experiences of the body. She prefers to work on a large scale and enjoys the making of art as a physical experience. In the recent years, Pöykkö has used painting and ripping to work the textile materials. The roots of the stringlike, airy end works for Snowball Effect 2021 exhibition are in the artist’s childhood memories of lying under the laundry drying lines and watching the movement of sheets in the wind.


Johanna Pöykkö testing the hanging and the shadow play of her textile sculpture. Video: Johanna Pöykkö


Sanna Krook

Sanna Krook (1976–) is an Oulu-based photographer fascinated by people and their immediate everyday lives – of nothing really happening while the one-time, unique lives of the individuals are going on every second.

In her own words: “Photographs are about light and shadow. Photographs, especially documentary photographs, are also about choice. I, as a photographer, choose to show exactly this out of everything that I have seen. My selection may be based on knowledge or emotion: this is the matter or the person that I want to photograph, this is what I want to show. It can also be based on intuition: for whatever reason this is the photograph that I wanted to shoot. Something is always left out in this selection – becomes invisible, is left in the shadow."

Sanna Krook is interested in human beings, biographies and communities. What is meaningful for Krook in documentary photography is that you don’t have to go far to find interesting subjects. The artistic process may take years, and starts with the artist finding something interesting and fascinating and wanting to learn more. For her, collecting background information, meeting people and chatting with her subjects is important part of the work.


Editing process. Photographs on the studio floor. Image: Sanna Krook

Markku Heikkilä

Markku Akseli Heikkilä (1959–) is a visual artist who lives and works in Rovaniemi. He works both in his studio and out in the nature. He describes his work outdoors as searching and wondering; his artworks are born in collaboration with the environment. He is fascinated by the shared rhythms and the transitory quality of human beings and nature, and has created art by, for example, painting in flowing water using cream and painting on natural rock with water. 

The Tectonic series consists of photographic documentation of limestone drawings executed on marble. The drawings have been made in Kukkolankylä in the Tornio River valley by a small rocky pond in the middle of a small forest in 2018–2019. The title Tectonic refers both to the structure of the Earth’s crust and the composition and the joining of the structural components of the artworks.

The artist describes the process of the Tectonic series: “I looked around, walked on the rocks heated by the summer sun, and found a considerable amount of slated limestone. I decided to make some drawings. I sorted the limestones by hardness: 2b, 4b, 6b, 8n, even 12b.

The grooved, rough surface of the rock defined the line: straight lines, circles and arcs. I made a number of flexible rulers out of wood and cut plywood templates of circles of different sizes. I allowed the drawings to emerge as if without my intervention. I didn’t analyse the perspectives. I worked on the drawings from different directions, allowing the lines to guide me. Rain washed away some of my work. I incorporated the showers in my drawings, drawing another layer of lines on top of the faint washed-out ones. 

I heard the sounds of the dragonflies taking off from the marble pond, the greetings of a pair of ravens, the rustling of wind in the leaves. On a very quiet night the quiet sound of my drawing on the rock echoed back to me.”


Limestone drawer’s resting stool. Drawing on marble with limestones, tools and the artist’s stool. Image: Markku Akseli Heikkilä

Raisa Raekallio & Misha del Val

Raisa Raekallio (1978–) and Misha del Val (1979–) live and work in Sirkka, Kittilä in Lapland. When working together, they value listening and trust. They describe their painting process as something reminiscent of a jam session between musicians, where both of them give their contribution to the content, form and surface structure of the painting. Sometimes they paint simultaneously, sometimes taking turns, always improvising and following intuition. The starting point of the artwork might be an idea or a preliminary sketch that gradually becomes smaller and finally disappears in the background as the work proceeds.


Timelapse video of Raisa and Misha painting together in their studio in Sirkka, Kittilä. Video: Misha del Val

Themed activities

1. GENIUS LOCI – Essence of Place (biology, psychology, philosophy, art)

Kirsti Muinonen and Riikka Keränen share an interest in nature and the habits and habitats of other species. Keränen is an enthusiastic collector of materials, interested in the architecture of animals and the life of plants. In her art, Muinonen portrays the invisible world, exploring astronomy and environmental questions. She is worried about the loss of species and the consequences of human actions. Learn more of what the artists think about the environment by going through their bios and watching the artist interviews.

Keywords: looking versus seeing, perception and acknowledgement, other species, invisibility, essence of place.

2. Experimental geography (biology, geography, music, art)

Markku Akseli Heikkilä and Sanna Krook have both worked with a specific location or area over several years, getting to know the place slowly. Eija Ranta, on the other hand, turns the gaze from the external to the internal and listens what takes place within the body. Learn more of how Markku Akseli Heikkilä, Eija Ranta and Sanna Krook make their art by going through their bios and watching the artist interviews. What kinds of information have the artists collected when making their artworks?

Keywords: place, atmosphere, sound, scent, mapping

3. Concentration (ethics, sports, performing arts, philosophy, art)

Many of the artists featured in Snowball Effect 2021 mention meditation and contemplation as something important for themselves and their art. Meditation means stopping, remaining in silence and emptying the mind. It also means focusing, relaxing and listening to the world inside you. Learn more about Kirsti Muinonen’s, Eija Ranta’s, Markku Heikkilä’s, Raisa Raekallio’s and Misha del Val’s thoughts on making art by going through their bios and watching the artist interviews.

Keywords: stopping, presence, motion, existence, doing together, land art, choreography

4. Collective picture (arts)

Riikka Keränen and Johanna Pöykkö are both material-centred artists. Picking up, collecting, accumulating, storing and studying the materials and experimenting with them are important parts of their working processes. Both artists pay close attention to the meanings, life cycles and origins of their materials. Raisa Raekallio and Misha del Val paint their artworks together. They describe their painting process as something reminiscent of a jam session between musicians. Both of them give their contribution to the content, form and surface structure of the painting. When they work together, they take turns with one of them continuing the painting where the other left off.

Learn more of how the artists work their materials and how they work together by going through their bios and watching the artist interviews. What meanings do the materials carry? What does working together feel like?

Keywords: collecting, collections, leaving traces, artistic collaboration, taking turns, material study.