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Shoplifter's Solstice Installation

Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardottir pays tribute to the sun in her mixed-media sculpture

by Hans Aschim
on 21 June 2013

The summer solstice is the official start of summer and the longest day of the year. It's also a time to get together with friends and family for food, drinks and—in the higher reaches of the northern hemisphere—bask in the midnight sun. Nobody celebrates the summer solstice, or midsummer, quite like the Nordics, with their all-night parties and ancient traditions. In honor of the solstice, Icelandic-born, Brooklyn-based artist Hrafnhildur Arnardottir—aka Shoplifter—is revealing a new piece inspired by the longest day of the year.

Shoplifter, whose name originates from a comical yet reasonable mispronunciation of Hrafnhildur, is known for her juxtaposition of opposites and unique use of mixed materials. Her work appears in galleries across the world from Reykjavík to London, including an eye-catching installation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Much of Shoplifter's work explores the relative beauty of hair and its artistic potential when modifying color and scale. Her new installation is an ode to the source of life: the sun.


"I wanted to create this warm, bright sculpture almost like a children's cartoon," Shoplifter says at her Brooklyn studio, "I want people to experience optimism and hopefulness; this is what we feel in Iceland on the solstice." Shoplifter's abstract but playful interpretation of the sun blends a multitude of materials and textures in an extremely luminous yellow. "This color is so bright," Shoplifter says with a laugh, "it emulates the sun—it's like vitamin D for the brain."

Shoplifter cites the Icelandic midsummer tradition of staying up all night and bathing in the morning dew among her most vivid memories of the celebration. Though she has been living and working in New York for the past 20 years, her Icelandic roots continue to influence her style. "Iceland is an endless inspiration, the extreme differences between my homeland and New York City come out in the strong juxtapositions in my work," she says, "it's a blessing."


To celebrate the longest day of the year and the reveal of her new piece, Shoplifter is co-hosting a solstice party at Brooklyn's King & Grove hotel with Icelandic small-batch vodka Reyka. Having visited Reyka's facilities, we can attest to the quality born out of volcanic filtration and glacial spring water. Be sure to check out Shoplifter's website too.

Images courtesy of Shoplifter

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