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Ivy Vainio
The act of capturing what I consider a “perfect photo” gives me a sense of accomplishment that I also associate with a feeling that one gets when they are falling in love for the first time.
Ivy Vainio
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I am a direct descendant of a Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe member and am very connected to Ojibwe culture, values and beliefs.  During the summers I document life on the “powwow trail” through my photographs.   I try to capture the true essence of this contemporary American Indian gathering by photographing dancers, and their colorful and sacred outfits.  I have also embraced my Ojibwe heritage by documenting, through my camera lens, tribal member interactions that include other various cultural scenes such as reservation life and traditional seasonal activities.   I try to capture the strong sense of connection that symbolically binds them together, and that is their culture.  Through these photos I feel I add to the prideful and strong sense of cultural identity for many American Indians.  

Photography has been a relatively new venture and passion of mine.   It has allowed me the freedom to produce artistic expression in a way that I never really thought possible.  In the last four years, I have concentrated mostly on, and have been inspired by, objects found in the natural world and in the American Indian and other diverse cultural scenes. 
Within nature I like to focus on the hidden beauty of natural, and sometimes nature combined with manmade, objects that sometimes are overlooked.   With my nature photos I am fascinated with the visual artistic effects, the clarity of form, the blurring edges and almost dream-like aspects, that I get from using a macro lens. 
I had my first photography exhibition at the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s Jim Dan Hill Library during January 23 – May 14, 2012.  Two of my photographs were published in the Twin Cities Public Television’s 2012 and 2013 photography book, “Capture Minnesota I and II.”  I have had my photos published in national newspapers such as Indian Country Today, News From Indian Country and as well as local and regional newspapers such as The Circle Newspaper in Minneapolis and many tribal newspapers.  Two of my photos were published in the November 2011 issue of Budapest’s ÚJ EMBER, a Hungarian News Magazine.  One of my photos has been published in “We Stopped Forgetting,” a new book on Sami Americans and currently have been confirmed to be published in the Great Russian Encyclopedia expected to be published in 2014. 

A little more about my cultural heritage/identity background…Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”  I am someone who knows my family history.  My maternal great-great grandparents emigrated from Holland, Poland, Germany, England, Scotland and two were indigenous to North America in Minnesota.  My paternal ancestors were taken from Africa most likely as slaves and were placed on the Bahamas Islands.  My father was an immigrant to this country from Nassau in the early 1900s as a young boy with his family.  My paternal grandfather fought for this country as a soldier during WWI when he had no civil rights.  I embrace and honor each of my ancestors for their hard work, bravery, struggles, rising above cultural barriers, hanging on to their cultural norms, and for surviving. 

I’m a resident of Duluth, Minnesota.
Ivy Vainio’s Awards and Recognitions
  • Book cover Art:  Jim Northrup, Obzsibve indian kolto versei "Nagy Kis-Madar."  Published by Hungarian Uj Forras Kiado-Librarius Konyvek, 2013. Book of Jim Northrup's (Anishinaabe) poetry translated into Hungarian.  Inside also includes 7 photographs of mine.
  • I was one of 200 photographers whose photograph was accepted to be published in the Twin Cities Public Television’s 2012 photography book, “Capture Minnesota.” 
  • I was one of 216 photographers whose photograph was accepted to be published in the Twin Cities Public Television’s 2013 photography book, “Capture Minnesota II.” 
  • One of my photos has been published in “We Stopped Forgetting,” a new book on Sami Americans - 2012.
  • Two of my photographs of sugarbush are published in a new Heid Erdrich book published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press entitled, “Original Local: Indigenous Food, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest.”
  • Two of my photos were published in the November 2011 issue of Budapest’s ÚJ EMBER, a Hungarian News Magazine. 
  • I have been confirmed to be published in the Great Russian Encyclopedia expected to be published in 2013/14.
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  • I was featured in a full 3 page spread article the national Indian Country Today magazine publication about my first solo "Naamijig: Honoring Our Traditions" Exhbition in November 2012.
  • I have had my photos published in national newspapers such as Indian Country Today, News From Indian Country and as well as local and regional newspapers such as The Circle Newspaper in Minneapolis and many tribal newspapers for the past 4 years.