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News, 10/24/2011 | Embassy of Finland, Washington

The Loveliest Girl in the World: Stunning photos and touching stories

Photographer Miina Savolainen's award-winning exhibition is on display at the Finnish Embassy in October and November. Savolainen's beautiful images, taken in the remote corners of Finland, portray the coming-of-age passages of ten girls growing up in a children's home.

The Loveliest Girl in the World_1The most successful Finnish photography project of all time, The Loveliest Girl in the World, arrives in Washington from Ottawa, Canada and it will continue to New York, Mexico City and Santiago de Chile as part of its first international tour outside Europe. Finland and the first female ambassador of Finland in United States, Mrs. Ritva Koukku-Ronde, host the exhibition to stress the importance of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.

The Loveliest Girl in the World is a photography project unique in scope, realized by artist Miina Savolainen who portrayed ten girls growing up in a children’s home. The overlooked and mistreated girls were photographed on their own terms in order for the girls and those around them to appreciate their worth. The idea for the project was borne out of Savolainen´s understanding that verbal communication was not a sufficient tool to heal children whose trust had been broken with words.

The Loveliest Girl in the World_2Everyone is entitled to feel precious and beloved

The Loveliest Girl in the World presents touching coming-of-age stories of marginalized children becoming visible and discovering their self-acceptance. Mythical nature in the photos appears as the protector of wounded children. The photos impart a simple yet powerful idea: Everyone is entitled to feel precious and beloved.

Behind the more than 120 chromogenic color photographs developed personally by the artist are 70,000 frames and more than 200,000 kilometers of driving to stunningly beautiful locations in Finland – woods and fields blanketed with snow, smouldering forest fire sites, a still lake in a summer’s night – places to make one see the world around us differently.

Empowering photography, borne out the project, has been used in Finland in therapy, education and workplace development since the year 2000. This award-winning social innovation developed by Savolainen elevates the exchange of a gaze into a tool for dialogic interaction and workplace improvement. The method reverses the balance of power between the photographer and the subject by creating a process of dialogue and transforming the photograph into an instrument of self-discovery.

The Loveliest Girl in the World_3Miina Savolainen is a community-art photographer from Helsinki whose works deal with social engagement. In the past, she has examined fatherhood in its different forms and is currently working on a community art project involving intersexed and transgendered individuals. She has educated more than 3,000 professionals in Finland to apply the method of empowering photography in social work, health care and education.

Comments from the exhibit´s guest book in Ottawa

”Dear Miina, I am so very proud of you. Your art, your support of girls and women, I can´t explain all of the emotions I feel for your work. Please let all of your models know how beautiful they are and what a privilege bestowed upon them to be such an important part of art history and women´s history.”

”The Loveliest Girl in the World is a hauntingly beautiful book and exhibit. The enchanted photographs reveal the most private and vulnerable side of the young women they portray. Children’s homes do not house problem youth after all, but fairies.”

”I am both shaken and impressed by this unique project for a better life by Miina Savolainen, by its uplifting spirit, tremendous courage, unbiased originality, enduring resolve, and her creative ability to act differently and for the benefit of others”.

The Loveliest Girl in the World_4The Loveliest Girl in the World
October 21 – November 13
Friday to Sunday from 11am to 4pm
Free entrance

PLEASE NOTE: Miina Savolainen guides visitors in person November 11-12
Embassy of Finland, 3301 Massachusetts Ave NW

More information: (202) 298 5822.

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Updated 11/4/2011

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