"I would like to touch the soul of my audience with my art."
About Anja Hovland
Anja was born in western Norway on Hovland in Eikefjord, the home of her father. Her parents met in 1929 in Turku, the old capital of Finland and after being married in Turku they moved to Norway with plans to settle there. However, times were very precarious in Europe and her father could not find a place to establish his profession as a boat builder. At 7 months of age she left Norway with her mother, who was then pregnant with her second child. They went to spend some time with her mother's family in Turku, Finland but due to unforeseen circumstances, this temporary visit lasted 10 years.
In 1943 her father made a surprise trip to Turku from where he was currently living in Sør-Varanger, arctic Norway. In September, 1944 the family moved to Elvenes-Sør-Varanger, where they survived the scorched-earth withdrawal of the German occupying forces. Emerging to a new life, Anja at age 11, began to paint.
At the time, people were living in dire circumstances--often under a rapidly constructed roof over the basements of their former homes. From the ashes new life was begun, but nobody had much of anything of beauty. So Anja painted and filled the walls of her family’s home, where people would always stop in during the cold winter for a cup of coffee or something. Everybody looked out for each other. The nature and manmade structures were all in ruins, but the loving hearts of the people rejoiced since they were once again free.
Anja graduated from Jr. High in 1949 and now lived with her family in Kirkenes, Norway. One day a journalist from the local newspaper stopped by her parent's house to interview Anja, then 16. She was well-known in the area for her paintings and was asked what plans she had for the future. Anja had not really acclimatized to Norway yet, but she replied, "I want to learn to paint like the old masters." and the next day this statement was on the front page of Sør-Varanger Avis, the local paper.
Truth be told, Anja knew very little at age 16 about any art at all, but she was accepted into Turun Taideyhdistyksen Koulu, a three year art school run by the Art Association of Turku. Today this school is known as the Arts Academy at the Turku University of Applied Sciences. She studied there with a scholarship from her home town in Norway and advanced through the three year course in just two years and graduated in 1951. What to do next? The local Jr. High lost the art teacher the Fall of 1952, and the principal was desperate to find a teacher for that school year, so he offered the spot to Anja, and she taught pupils barely two years her junior. While teaching about 20 hours per week she painted at home with materials she had brought back from Finland.
In 1953 she completed the three large paintings that presently decorate the stairway in the Sør-Varanger City Hall, but to begin with these paintings decorated her parent's home. Anja next applied to the highest art educational institutions both in Oslo, Norway and Helsinki, Finland for the following year. Either school would have been fine, but in her heart she hoped for acceptance to Suomen Taideakatemian Koulu --the School of the Finnish Academy of Art in Helsinki--today this school is known as The Academy of Fine Arts. She was accepted and completed her studies in two years and was considered for a scholarship to Paris, France in 1955. However, she somehow felt pulled to go to the United States and in 1957 she was invited to study at Brigham Young University. She began studies in Fine Art, Languages & Music in the Spring of 1958. She received her Bachelor of Arts in 1961 and was awarded a fellowship for one year. She completed her M.F.A. in 1962 and her thesis was written on the hypothetical possibility of realizing in oil colors the Ostwald Color Wheel.
In the meantime, Anja married a fellow international student from Peru in 1960: Carlos J. Sanchez, who wanted to study medicine, and Anja and Carlos both worked toward that goal. Carlos was accepted at St.Louis University School of Medicine to the class of 1962-1966. Anja was hired as a lecturer in Spanish at the university and their family was growing. Carlos obtained his M.D. In 1966, and the family came to California for his internship in Stockton.
She has lived in San Diego since 1968 and in beautiful Bonita since 1976 and while she put her art on semi-hold when her children were small, she has never stopped painting!
She has shown her work in Turku, and Helsinki, Finland; Oslo, Bergen, Kirkenes & Svanvik, Norway; Salt Lake City & Provo, Utah; and San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Bonita, California.
At the age of 90, Anja continues to take great pleasure in her artistic endeavors!