You've probably seen it. The eight-pointed star makes its way in traditional Scandinavian and Ojibwe art and wardrobe. The symbol is often used for protection, fertility, good luck in both heritages, and that intersection is at the forefront of "Beads: Northern Traditions and Inspirations," an exhibit at the Nordic Center.

Watch for beaded works and new mixed media paintings from artists and educators Alison Aune, Wendy Savage, Herb Fineday and more. Laurann Gilbertson, curator of the Vesterheim, the Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center in Decorah, Iowa, will give a free presentation on the symbolism of the folk tradition from 1-3 p.m. Sunday.

"Beads" started with original pieces from the Vesterheim, and from there, Savage, Aune and Arna Rennan joined heads to build the exhibit up.

Seeing the Norwegian works inspired a collaboration with Ojibwe beadwork, said Savage. "We're all about inclusion for cultures and showing the universality that we all have."

Beads in Scandinavia were trade goods only available in port cities, and women used embroidery if they didn't have them, said Aune.

The eight-pointed star is beaded on the breastplate (bringeklut) of folk dresses (bunads), said Aune.

It's a living tradition in Norway. Over 450 styles Bunads are worn for memorials, holidays and celebrations. Beadwork also shows up on wedding crowns, wristbands and belts, she said.

It's another sacred symbol, like dogwood, used on beaded or woven medicine bags, added Savage.

The eight-pointed star was easy to gravitate toward while weaving due its geometric nature.

There will be beadings, weavings and knitted items by Dennis White, Marcie McIntyre, Tashia Hart, Carl Gawboy and more. Aune will have 16 paintings in the exhibit. And while she's not beading, she said, "I'm honoring this tradition of beadwork that women have done for centuries to make something beautiful."

Savage developed a curriculum to honor cross-cultural bead traditions, and as part of the exhibit, families gathered for an April 28 workshop. We continue to interpret cultural art, and then we share new traditions, she said.

There's a historical idea that handwork or beadwork is not fine art, but Aune doesn't believe that. "This is fine art, and it's beautiful."

An exhibit like this is in line with the Nordic Center's mission to serve a broader community, said Arna Rennan. "It's not an insular thing for people of nordic heritage only."

"We want people to come together, to not fear," added Aune.

"Sacred Symbols: The Folk Art of Norway" is supported by the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation, the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and the Nortun Lodge, Sons of Norway.

Food and refreshments are from 1-2 p.m., and the presentation will follow.

A closing reception for "Beads: Northern Traditions and Inspirations" is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. May 16.

If you go

• What: "Beads: Northern Traditions and Inspirations" exhibit and presentation on the folk art of Norway by Laurann Gilbertson

• When: 1-3 p.m. Sunday

• Where: Nordic Center, 23 N. Lake Avenue

• Cost: Free

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