Artist addresses controversial Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival poster

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The 2015 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival poster by Kalle Siekken. (Courtesy Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival)

The 2015 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival poster by Kalle Siekken. (Courtesy Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival)

PONCHATOULA, La. (WGNO) - The 2015 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival in April is getting some early unintended publicity after their poster was unveiled on Facebook. Some are calling the poster racist, but the artist and festival leaders are standing by their decision.

The festival poster features two faceless children holding a flat of strawberries. Artist Kalle Siekkinen said this piece is about “happiness, acceptance, and freedom. Not so much looking at the color."

On Thursday, festival leaders and the Ponchatoula Kiwanis Club stuck to a prepared joint press release saying:

“Art is subjective. It is interpretive. Her facelessness does not mean she is nobody. She is everybody. There was no intent other than to pay tribute to the festival and the strawberry industry.”

Siekkinen says the two children appear in a series of paintings called Simon and Louise.

He says it's disappointing when people misinterpret the message, "but at the same time I see how it could be seen in a different way without the proper understanding."

Siekkinen says satisfaction to him is if his art can stimulate discussion that moves society in a positive direction. "The paintings come from the heart. I hope they view the same. "

The 2015 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival runs April 10-12 in Memorial Park.

2 comments

  • Cindy Gonzales

    I would like to purchase a large $40 poster from the Strawberry Festival 2015 by Kallé SSiekkinen preferrably. If not available then I will take a $25 poster.

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