Päivi Eronen, b.1971

After the comprehensive school I studied at the special vocational school in Liperi. I moved to Kirsikoti in 1993. I paint pictures and fabrics. The tones I use are intensive and I like to apply several layers of colour. I don’t think over any subjects, I enjoy painting. Colours are important to me. Once in a while I’m on kitchen duties and wash my laundry. I like to travel the world and I enjoy our festivities very much. I have lots of friends.

Jukka-Pekka Levy

Jukka-Pekka Levy, b.1987

I moved to Kirsikoti in 1997. I attended comprehensive school in Pankakoski special unit. I enjoyed the time at school. We produced many kinds of performances: Clown school, Indians’ homecoming, Orchestra Euforia, Colour Circle, and Snow White and the seven dwarfs. The last one we performed at Princess Sofia’s School in Almeria, Spain. I played one of the dwarfs. In 2003 and 2005, I spent some time painting in Italy with Kirsikoti’s group. Those were good times. I finished my studies in Kirsikoti’s art project in August, 2007 and now I continue my work at the art work shop. I paint fabrics used in our products and take part in teaching, when lessons are available. Every once in a while I get commissioned to paint something. It feels nice. I take part in Kirsikoti’s artists’ group exhibitions. I had a solo exhibition in Juuka in spring of 2007.

Laura Nykänen

Laura Nykänen, b.1983

I finished comprehensive school in Pankakoski. After that, I studied at Lieksa Christian Community College for three years. For a year I worked at Lieksa art activation centre and at Lieksan Tukipiste support centre. I love music and colours, theatre and opera. It’s wonderful to be near someone. For three years I’ve been searching for the artist in me in the Kirsikoti art project. In the autumn of 2005 we had a four week working period in Tuscany, Italy. We had an exhibition there. The project ended in August 2007. After that I’ve been creating art in the Kirsikoti art work shop. In addition to paintings, I paint fabrics for clothing accessories and home textiles. I like working with friends. Exhibitions and their openings are great. I’ve made lots of custom-made jacket fabrics, bags, table cloths, trays and home textiles. As a final work for the project I designed and made furnishing fabrics for my home. The theme was “Trees”. I also painted pictures about the theme. I am an artist.

Niina Kari

Niina Kari, b.1985

My comprehensive school was the Pankakoski special unit. I became a resident of Kirsikoti in 2004. Before that, I used to come here for camps, and my class often visited here. I like cats, but I like dogs more. I like painting pictures. A working period in Italy was nice, I made many paintings there. I like openings of exhibitions. I always get a rose. I used to study at the special vocational school in Liperi, and after that I’ve worked in Kirsikoti in various household duties. In the art work shop, I sometimes paint fabrics for products. Every once in a while I take part in art lessons. I enjoy Kari Nykänen’s singing lessons. It feels good to sing together with everybody.

Santtu Miettinen, b.1982

I finished comprehensive school in Kuopio. My family includes my mother, my sister and my brother. I studied for a year in the art program in Kaprakka After that I studied at Nikkarila in Pieksämäki. That’s when my beloved father died. I went back to Kaprakka to study for a basic degree in housekeeping and consumer services. It took three years. After that I studied in an art project in Kirsikoti for three years. The project ended in August 2007 and I wanted to stay and live in Kirsikoti. When my father died, I inherited a summer cabin in Leppävirta. My family and relatives are very dear to me. My home is now here in Kirsikoti, and sometimes I visit my relatives in Kuopio. I want to go forward as an artist. Here in the art work shop I can create as much art as I want to and I can also go to art lessons.

Marika Paalamo

Marika Paalamo, b.1970

After finishing comprehensive school, I studied at the special vocational school in Liperi. I became a resident of Kirsikoti in 1994. I enjoy cooking and making salads. I’m good at it. Every morning I wake up to set the breakfast table and make morning coffee. I also make coffee and set the table for our guests. We get many guests. Some of them even stay overnight. One of the things I enjoy is painting. I often paint animals and nature. I paint fairy tale themes too. I illustrated Pekka Heiskanen’s book of poems “Ihmiseksi”. I find it beautiful. I took part in a fairy tale book competition as an illustrator in 2004. I don’t know yet how it turned out. I get commissioned to paint a lot. People like my blankets with animal themes and they buy them for children. I’ve painted curtains and fabrics for trays. Exhibitions make me feel festive and that’s when we all celebrate.

Kirsi Mikkonen

Kirsi Mikkonen, b.1969

I became Raija’s girl when I was 4 years old. Already when I was small, I went to Lieksa Art School and art camps. After finishing comprehensive school I studied at Kitee agricultural school, because I like animals very much. At first we had sheep in Kirsikoti, and I was the one who got to look after them all. Now we have two dogs and two cats. I’m in charge for looking after them. I love them. I wouldn’t have time for looking after any sheep now, because art is taking so much time. I want to paint more Italian themes. I made one painting featuring the Ruunaa rapids this year. I paint wax cloth and fabrics for trays. I also get commissioned to paint quite often. I like colours and large planes. I painted four fabrics for my Via Toscana theme measuring seven meters in length and three meters in width. I love painting. It is wonderful to paint. I want to be an artist. I’m dreaming of getting to Italy again to paint. I’m an artist member of Joensuu’s artist association.

Piia Vaarala

Piia Vaarala, b.1983

I’ve been to Kirsikoti’s art camps for many years and taken part to exhibitions. I became a regular resident of Kirsikoti in 2003. I finished studying at the special vocational school in Liperi last spring, and now I study in Kirsikoti’s art project to become an artist. I enjoy painting and I want to learn more. I also enjoy dancing and music, and we have them in our programme. I have learned to play the kantele too. Exhibitions are nice. The mood is festive and we all get roses. I have performed in the musical “Nyt jos koskaan” (‘Now if ever’), in a mass called “Kanssani hän kulkee” (‘He walks with me’), and in the musical “Joku kutsuu sinua” (‘Somebody’s calling you’) together with the Kirsikoti group. In the 30 anniversary festival of the town of Lieksa I performed a solo dance performance “Brahean synty” (‘Birth of Brahea’). It was a big event and the programme was performed twice on that day at the Brahe hall. I have also danced in openings of exhibitions. In Italy, I danced too.

Raija Mikkonen, b.1949

I started working as a special unit teacher at Pankakoski in 1983. I got to know a world where life glows in its every form. I saw genuinity, openness, ability to live in the very moment. I was astonished by their artistic talent. At first I tried to understand and explain what I went through. Step by step I’ve learned to keep silent and just marvel at it all. Our culture has not offered opportunities for their messages. I wanted to build such a place. This dream gave rise to Kirsikoti. We have lived here together and been mutually responsible for everything. I can’t paint, but I can order supplies and frame ready pictures. I can communicate with the outside world and take our exhibitions out for others to see. I can drive a car, so we can have adventures together. I am grateful and happy for this life.

Artistfriends of Kirsikoti

Hanna Ronkainen, b.1973

I was born in Liperi 1973 and spent my early years there. I studied there in a comprehensive and in a vocational school. My parents moved to Punkaharju and so did I. I started to work in the kitchen of a kindergarden. Now I work the mornings in a house for elderly people and in the afternoon I weave carpets in Metsätähti-house.
I have lived 3 years on my own with other people and I do look forward to move to a brand new apartment in a house where there is personnel to help me.
For me it is really important to be independent and make my breakfast and do my shopping.
I love to work with my hands, e.g. different handicrafts. When I work I usually listen to music, like a Finnish singer J. Karjalainen.

Nina Maarit Leppänen, b.1974

I live with my parents in Savonlinna. I use sign language, because of my hearing defect. I have been interested of colours and painting from my early years. My first paintings were made by mix of caramel colours and sour cream. I like bright colours and my favourite topics are animals and flowers.
After elementary school, I was a student at Kuhankoski special school. I graduated as an visual artisan.
I have visited at Kirsikoti since 1990. I have got many friends at those courses and versatile instruction of arts. Drawing and painting have become a way to tell my feelings and about the events. My hobby is also handicrafts.
My family always encourages me to make arts. I have had art exhibition for example at Galleria Pinta and Sataman Valot in Savonlinna. Also my works have been placed in many co-operated exhibition and with Kirsikoti artist’s group exhibitions.

Taika-Tuulia Kärkkäinen, b.2002

I stydy on the 4 th grade in special school, Lieksa. I have participated Kirsikoti art camp two times. It was fun. I like to paint, listen to music and dance. I like cats and dogs.

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