The first Johanna Ehrnrooth Prize awarded to visual artist Priss Niinikoski

For the first time this spring, the University of the Arts Helsinki Foundation awards the Johanna Ehrnrooth Prize to an artist participating in the Kuvan Kevät MFA exhibition of the Academy of Fine Arts. The prize of 10,000 euros was awarded to Priss Niinikoski, whose works boldly interconnect the traditions of various artistic fields.

Petri Summanen

The purpose of the new visual art prize awarded by the University of the Arts Helsinki Foundation is to support young visual artists in making the transition from finishing studies to starting a professional career and entering the international art scene. The prize is awarded to a visual artist who has shown capability and interest in pursuing an international career. The prize money is allocated from a fund that was established to honour the memory of visual artist Johanna Ehrnrooth and that is managed by the University of the Arts Helsinki Foundation.

The prize was awarded to Priss Niinikoski on 6 May 2024 by Leevi Haapala, the chair of the jury and dean of the Academy of Fine Arts, and Heikki Lehtonen, the chair of the board of the University of the Arts Helsinki Foundation. Professor Hanna Johansson from the Academy of Fine Arts was also a member of the jury.

“In her thesis project, Priss Niinikoski does a great job in putting together traditions of sculpture, time and body art, textile art and fashion design into a material sound installation that stimulates the spectator’s senses. Niinikoski adeptly makes use of traditional craft skills as well as new technology, and the outcome is an interlayered work that evokes tension in the space,” says Dean Leevi Haapala.

Haapala finds Niinikoski’s works interesting from an international perspective.

“In her practice, Niinikoski looks for new ways of doing things, boldly interconnects various artistic fields and adapts new artistic expressions to the issues and meanings that are typical to the time that we live in, as is characteristic to contemporary art,” Haapala says.

“Entering the international art scene is difficult for a newly graduated visual artist. By giving out this award, the University of the Arts Helsinki Foundation wants to encourage artists in the early stages of their careers to build networks and work in international contexts,” Chair of the Board Heikki Lehtonen notes.

Priss Niinikoski is a Finnish-French artist, who has a multidisciplinary work method involving technology and textiles. She is currently finishing her master’s studies in the subject area of sculpture at Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts. Previously, Niinikoski has studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp in Belgium.

The University of the Arts Helsinki Foundation awards grants and prizes to young artists to support their studies and the beginning of their careers in fine arts and performing arts. The funds of the foundation are accrued through bequests and donations.