Local artist, ASU alum showcases Scandinavian paintings at ASU Gammage

Scottsdale artist Jana Peterson grew up surrounded by the language and heritage of Norway.

Primarily of Norwegian descent, Peterson was born in Northfield, Minnesota, which has a large and active Norwegian community. After visiting Norway for the first time when she was 21 and finally meeting many of her extended family members, Peterson felt a deeper connection to her heritage and the beautiful sites in the country.

All of that has influenced her latest series of paintings, which includes colorful sceneries that showcase the water, landscapes and skies she saw on her travels. The series will be on display at ASU Gammage during the February run of the Broadway musical tour of "Frozen," which takes place in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, based on multiple locations in Norway.

“It’s always exciting getting to show off your hard work, and when you’re having this huge Broadway show at the same time that takes place somewhere inspired by the same place these paintings are, it’s really special,” Peterson said.

Peterson started painting over 40 years ago and has since developed her portfolio and style across multiple mediums, including sculpture, murals and jewelry-making.

Art and culture have always been deeply embedded in her life, and Peterson’s family has been a great influence in creating an environment that lets her passion and creativity flourish. Her mother was an art teacher, and her father is a professor emeritus of architectural design at Arizona State University, where he was a professor of architecture for 35 years.

Coming from a family of artists, Peterson was highly encouraged and pushed to fully embrace her capacity for creativity. This started with her love of ballet at the age of 5, and as she approached her college years, she picked up painting and fell in love.

Peterson received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and an associate degree in interior design before coming to ASU, where she obtained a master’s degree in art education and followed in her mother’s footsteps as an art teacher for over 30 years.

This is not the first nor the second time that Peterson has showcased her art at ASU Gammage. In June of 2022, Peterson displayed a colorful series of landscapes and architectural paintings alongside paintings done by her father, and before that, she first had her art shown in ASU Gammage during the '80s.

Her paintings are vibrant and range from highly detailed scenes in nature to pieces that exemplify color explosion expressionism.

‘’I am a colorist and I love using a lot of bright fun colors in my work, a lot of which is architectural as well,” Peterson said. “My work is primarily happy, cheerful and bright. I want people to see my art and get their socks knocked off. It’s really in-your-face kind of work.”

Peterson’s Scandinavian paintings will be on display at ASU Gammage until March 6.

Emily Mai