Vesterheim to host online event on famed figure carver Harley Refsal | Local News


DECORAH — Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, and PBS will celebrate Vesterheim instructor and gold medalist Harley Refsal. This free online event is at 2 p.m. May 15. Register for a Zoom link at

Refsal is an internationally recognized figure carver, specializing in Scandinavian flat-plane woodcarving. He is professor emeritis of Scandinavian folk art at Luther College.

Raised in Minnesota, he lived in Norway in the 1960s and 1980s, and has traveled extensively throughout Scandinavia. He has won numerous carving awards and in 1996 was decorated by the government and King of Norway for his contributions to Norwegian folk-art studies. Refsal is the author of “Art and Technique of Scandinavian-Style Woodcarving” as well as seven other carving-related books and numerous articles for wood carving magazines.

Charles Banks is an intermediate and secondary arts education instructor with a passion for Nordic arts. His love of figure carving in the traditional flat-plane style has merged with his interest in advancing the style of characters in more personal and unique poses. In addition to his teaching in the public schools, he has taught classes for North House Folk School, the John C. Campbell Folk School and Vesterheim Folk Art School. 

Liesl Chatman is a greenwood spoon carver, kolroser, and teacher. Her journey with kolrosing started by listening to Refsal give a talk and demonstration on kolrosing at the Milan Spoon Gathering in 2016. “The eye has its needs, too,” she remembers Refsal saying. She loves that spoon carving and kolrosing are crafts that are accessible, affordable and enjoyable.  

The event will include a film viewing and live storytelling and conversation with woodworkers Charles Banks and Liesl Chatman, who studied with Refsal.

For more information, visit, or call (563) 382-9681.


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