Harley Refsal

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Harley Refsal is an internationally recognized figure carver, specializing in Scandinavian flat-plane style of woodcarving.

Scandinavian flat-plane style of woodcarving

The Scandinavian flat-plane style of woodcarving is a style of figure carving. The figures are carved in large flat planes, created primarily using a carving knife. Tool marks are left in the carving and very little rounding or sanding is done. Emil Janel, a Swedish-born American artist, was considered by many to be one of the best of this genre.



Refsal was born and raised on a farm near Hoffman, Minnesota, which was homesteaded by his Norwegian-immigrant grandparents. He began working in wood as a young boy. His father, a carpenter and farmer, and a woodworker uncle who lived nearby kept him well supplied with wood, tools, and encouragement.

Hoffman, Minnesota City in Minnesota, United States

Hoffman is a city in Grant County, Minnesota, United States, along the Chippewa River. The population was 681 at the 2010 census.

Norway Country in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.


Refsal lived in Norway in the 1960s and again in the 1980s, and has traveled extensively throughout Scandinavia. Upon retiring from full-time teaching at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa in 2010, he holds the title Professor Emeritus of Scandinavian Folk Art. Since the 1980s, Refsal, who speaks fluent Norwegian, has shared his knowledge of and skills in Scandinavian-style flat-plane figure carving with thousands of carvers through courses and presentations in North America and in Scandinavia.

Luther College is a private liberal arts college in Decorah, Iowa. Established as a Lutheran seminary in 1861 by Norwegian immigrants, the school today is an institution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Decorah, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Decorah is a city in and the county seat of Winneshiek County, Iowa, United States. The population was 8,127 at the 2010 census. Decorah is located at the intersection of State Highway 9 and U.S. Route 52, and is the largest community in Winneshiek County.

Folk art art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople

Folk art covers all forms of visual art made in the context of folk culture. Definitions vary, but generally the objects have practical utility of some kind, rather than being exclusively decorative. The makers of folk art are normally trained within a popular tradition, rather than in the fine art tradition of the culture. There is often overlap, or contested ground, with naive art, but in traditional societies where ethnographic art is still made, that term is normally used instead of "folk art".

Refsal is an Emeritus Member of the Caricature Carvers of America. [1] In 1996 he was decorated by H.M. Harald V, King of Norway, receiving the St. Olav's Medal, in recognition of his role in reinvigorating and popularizing Scandinavian figure carving in both North America and Norway. Refsal teaches carving at a variety of course centers through the U.S., including Vesterheim Museum, Decorah, IA; North House Folk School, Grand Marais, MN; Milan Village Arts School, Milan, MN; Norsk Wood Works, Barronett, WI; and the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

In 1989, a group of ten wood carvers, with the common goal of promoting the art of caricature carving, met in the back room of Paxton Lumber Co. in Fort Worth, Texas to discuss the formation of a national organization to further that goal. From that meeting came the Caricature Carvers of America (CCA). The founding group consisted of fifteen nationally recognized wood carvers representing a broad geographical distribution as well as diverse styles of caricature carving. Since the inception of the CCA, two members have resigned, four have converted their membership to "emeritus" status, three are deceased, and eighteen new members have been elected, bringing the 2003 membership to 25. The newly formed organization made no claims of being "the best," although many of the members are readily recognized as being among the elite in the carving community. The combined membership has garnered several hundred first place ribbons, including many "Best-of-Show", in carving competitions across the nation; they have published over 80 books on wood carving; and they regularly teach wood carving seminars throughout the United States and Canada.

Harald V of Norway King of Norway

Harald V is the current King of Norway, having ascended to the throne upon the death of his father King Olav V on 17 January 1991.

St. Olavs Medal

The St. Olav's Medal and the St. Olav's Medal With Oak Branch were instituted by King Haakon VII of Norway on 17 March 1939. They are awarded in recognition of "outstanding services rendered in connection with the spreading of information about Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their home country".

He was named 2012 Woodcarver of the Year by Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine. [7]


University of Oslo Norwegian public research university

The University of Oslo, until 1939 named the Royal Frederick University, is the oldest university in Norway, located in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Until 1 January 2016 it was the largest Norwegian institution of higher education in terms of size, now surpassed only by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The Academic Ranking of World Universities has ranked it the 58th best university in the world and the third best in the Nordic countries. In 2015, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked it the 135th best university in the world and the seventh best in the Nordics. While in its 2016, Top 200 Rankings of European universities, the Times Higher Education listed the University of Oslo at 63rd, making it the highest ranked Norwegian university.

Telemark University College was, until its merger, the fourth largest university college in Norway. The University College had about 7000 students, split between four different locations in Bø, Notodden, Porsgrunn, Rauland and Drammen.

Rauland Former Municipality

Rauland is a mountain village in Telemark County, Norway. It is situated in the traditional region of Vest-Telemark.


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