This month, we are so excited to officially welcome Maria Kausalainen as our new Director of People! We were able to catch up with Maria recently to ask her a few questions about her new role. Read below to find out more about Maria!
1. What have you been doing before coming on board with Inspiro?
Originally from Finland, Maria earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2001. Following this, she worked as an artist for 10-13 years. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in 2009. She loves to learn and has been blessed to dive into many different areas of study.
In 2010, while working as the head of the Finnish Printmaking Association and running their gallery, she told the Lord that she would not do any more art exhibitions unless He clearly directed her to do so. She was frustrated by a lack of relationship with the artists with whom she was working. Starting around 2007, she and her husband felt called to missions but wrestled with knowing how to follow this call as artists. In her words, she felt “God must have made a mistake” in making her an artist. However, the Lord led her to Steiger International, a missions organization whose goal is to reach young adults. They often use the arts, music, and exhibitions to do so. In 2015, Maria moved to New Zealand with her family, where they have continued to serve with Steiger and OM Finland. In New Zealand, she has been doing exhibitions and coordinating creative outreaches. Her connection with Inspiro came through OM Finland.
2. What will your role with Inspiro involve?
Maria’s official title is “Director of People.” She is excited about helping to take care of artists so that they can do the work of artmaking. She is also looking forward to acting as a support and connection for them between OM fields.
3. What artforms do you practice?
Maria is a beautifully talented artist herself, working with photography, printmaking, drawing, and photo-based printing. She also enjoys putting together installations, particularly those involving “time and space-based art.” To see some of Maria’s work, follow her on Instagram or check out Blueprint Art Gallery. She is not the only artistic one in the family – her husband plays the drums.
4. What are you most excited about in your new role?
Maria says she is most excited about getting to see what God is doing around the world. She is looking forward to meeting people and journeying with them.
5. What is one interesting fact about yourself?
When I asked her this question, Maria chuckled and paused before saying, ‘I love weight-lifting.” She added, “It’s a funny hobby for a woman over 40. . .’ She enjoys the challenge that this activity provides. She also mentioned that she hates being in pictures, much preferring to be the one on the other side of the camera!
6. If you could tell an artist considering missions one thing, what would it be?
Maria’s main encouragement to artists considering missions is to seek God and spend time with Him. She would remind them that God’s views and creativity are not always like ours; He is much bigger and more creative than we could ever be and is our source. She cautioned against relying on our own creativity, as this can only get us so far. She added, ‘How amazing it is to have a God who is the Creator and our Father. He is a never-ending source of creativity and beauty and is guiding us as a good Father to live that out. Contact us and let's have a talk.’
As an ending reflection, Maria told me how excited she is to be part of and help cultivate a community of artists. She commented that being an artist can often be a lonely place, and it is such a blessing to “know people who know stuff like you know stuff.” This community is countercultural to our often-individualistic society, and Maria desires to see us value and fight for it. We are absolutely thrilled to have Maria on board and cannot wait to see how the Lord uses her as a part of Inspiro. Welcome, Maria!