ITE Artist of the Year

ITE Artist of the Year

We aim to raise awareness for self-taught artists who have produced a significant body of work. This title gives artists the recognition they deserve as well as opportunities to exhibit their work.


ITE Artist of the Year 2020: Paula Huhtanen.
ITE Artist of the Year
2021: Jori Tapio Kalliola

2021: Jori Tapio Kalliola – sculptor of wooden heads

The Association for Rural Culture and Education has named Jori Tapio Kalliola the 2021 ITE Artist of the Year. He is a Rauma-born self-taught artist and musician who now lives in Hanko.

Jori Tapio Kalliola’s works are commentaries on the current state of the world and life in general. They take aim at the power structures of society, politics, religion and economics, as well as greed and the pursuit of power, but are tinged with a gentle sense of humour.

Kalliola started painting when he was young, but then music took over and he spent years touring the world with his band. Kalliola has become known as a musician and the frontman of various bands and is still the lead singer of Jori Otsa & Mah’Orkka. Jori Tapio Kalliola does not have a formal arts education and is also a self-taught musician, singer and lyricist.

Kalliola has lived in Hanko since 2014, at which point sculpting became his preferred form of expression. He finds sculpting so fascinating that he creates statues almost every day, and his workshop is filled with wooden sculptures and reliefs. Kalliola uses materials abandoned by other people to create his frightening wooden heads. The materials used in his sculptures include bits of logs, dismantled railway parts and scrap metal.

ITE Artist of the Year 2021 Jori Tapio Kalliola. Image: Veli Granö.

2020: Paula Huhtanen – promoter of ‘joyism’

Paula Huhtanen was born in Lapland but now lives in the village of Sarkola in Nokia. In 2020, she became the first ITE Artist of the Year. This allowed her to highlight the perspective of artists in a number of events, online discussions and media interviews.

Huhtanen promotes ‘joyism’ in her art, spreading the ideas of trust and optimism that erupt from her brilliantly colourful paintings and collages. Her artistic expression has also found a canvas on unique objects and accessories, such as a piece of furniture, a dish, a shoe and a garment.

Paula Huhtanen started her exhibition tour to mark the nomination in 2019 at the Helsinki Christmas Market, but the actual celebrations started with a television interview at the Ethnogala at Tavastia Club. Her summer was occupied with a solo exhibition, Ilo ylimillään (‘Full of joy’), and work as a village artist in Ilomantsi. Huhtanen’s works were also displayed at the ITE hirveetä! summer exhibition in Parkano, the ITE bear exhibition in Savonlinna Provincial Museum and the Makkaragalleria in Helsinki. Paula Huhtanen sent her work Kämmenellä (‘In the palm’) to the President of Finland, Mr Sauli Niinistö, and his wife, Mrs Jenni Haukio. The hand-shaped work crystallises the challenge of avoiding physical contact as a result of the pandemic but offers consolation by reminding us that art always offers opportunities for us to come together.

Paula Huhtanen has continued to promote opportunities for other ITE artists to exhibit their works even after her time as the ITE Artist of the Year.

Paula Huhtanen, Genie in a Bottle. Image: Leena Peltokangas.