In the news today, Icelandic women (including Iceland's prime minister Katrin Jakobsdottir) are going on strike to demand equal pay. The art market has a long history of unequal pay for women artists. What is your take on the current strike, especially when it comes to art? Have you experienced that inequality yourself, and what can we do to eliminate this gap?
I feel like I am fortunate to be a woman from Iceland. Iceland has, for more than a decade, topped the World Economic Forum's gender equality rankings, and since 2018, we have had a law in place that requires companies and government agencies to prove that they are paying men and women equally. With that being said, inequalities still exist in Iceland, and I am thankful for all the women and others who are fighting for equality, not just equal pay but also for gender-based violence and other causes.
I have experienced inequality myself, not in art, thankfully, but from past work experience. I have, however, never let that stop me as I have never seen it as a weakness to be a woman as we are all individuals with different abilities regardless of gender.
Regarding how we can eliminate this gap, we must continue to fight for equal rights for all genders. This change, unfortunately, takes time, and we must keep on going. Also, other countries should take Iceland as an example regarding equal pay legislation, gender-neutral parent leave, etc.
You work full-time, and you're a full-time mom to two teenagers. How do you find time for art? Do you have a routine, and what trade-offs did you have to make?
I have a very supportive family, both husband and children. They fully support my art and encourage me to give myself time for art by helping at home, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, etc. I don't feel like I had to make any trade-offs to find time for art, but when thinking back 3-4 years ago, when I started painting for real, I see that I started to prioritize my life differently – until then I spent most of my extra time working. I worked long hours, took care of my family, and then worked some more hours. Then, almost 4 years ago, I really started thinking about how I wanted to live my life, what brought me joy and what not, and here I am today 😊
What do you think Americans should know about Iceland? Maybe we, as Americans, have certain stereotypes about Iceland that you'd like to dispel. Maybe what to do and what not to do when we visit Iceland?
Iceland has a lot to offer. Maybe not sun and warm weather but a beautiful landscape and an untouched nature. We are not Eskimos living in snow houses and eating shark and sheep heads in every meal 😊. We have great houses (as we spend too much time inside because of cold weather) and eat modern food.
I would recommend that Americans take time to visit the West Fjords and East Fjords instead of focusing on the Golden Circles and other crowded tourist attractions.
Also, if people like hiking, I would recommend hiking in Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar area, one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Iceland.
How do you think Iceland, your surroundings, the weather, the landscape, the people affect your art? What is uniquely Icelandic in your work?
I would say that the rawness of Iceland's nature has a considerable influence on my artworks, and the cold and dark everyday life also evokes a joy of color in my works.
What message do you want to convey as an artist, particularly to an international audience?
Art is my mindfulness and way of disconnecting myself from everyday life and cultivating myself. I think art makes me a better person, and I have grown a lot over the past four years. I am grateful to see how well my art has been received, and it makes me happy to know that my artworks adorn homes worldwide.
In which direction would you like to take your art practice? Where do you want to be as an artist five years from now?
I want to keep growing as an artist and explore new methods and styles while keeping my own characteristics. I hope people will keep enjoying my art, as that also helps me grow. Iceland is a small market, so I would like to take my art more internationally in the future. It would be amazing to be able to make a living from my art 😊