Niina Mantsinen (born 1986) is a textile artist from North Karelia, Finland, whose works are based on graffiti, street art and traditional ryijy wall rugs. In her ryijys, Mantsinen combines the urban and illegal sides of graffiti with cosy, warm and traditional textiles. This tension is what makes the works fascinating.
Both graffiti and traditional textiles have often been created by people who do not have a formal education in arts. Another common aspect of these forms is that drawing the line between art and self-expression can be difficult – although Mantsinen herself does not see this difference as significant.
Even though graffiti and ryijys have many elements in common, they seemingly come from two different worlds. Graffiti are painted on hard surfaces, while ryijys are soft. Whereas spray paint is an extremely swift method of putting colour on a surface, making a ryijy is anything but quick.
Mantsinen also weaves using a loom, but she uses tufting to create the graffiti ryijys. In this technique, wool yarn is threaded, stitch by stitch, with a pen-like tufting tool into a base cloth stretched across a frame. Mantsinen has upgraded the traditional technique by acquiring a pneumatic tufting tool with which yarn can be inserted much quicker than before.