Grete Refsum is a professional visual artist, focusing on existential questions, religion and spirituality. Her aim is to contribute to a renewed understanding of Christianity within contemporary culture. During 25 years, she has systematically explored central Christian themes. Her point of departure lies within the Western traditions of The Roman Catholic and The Evangelical Lutheran Churches that she knows through liturgical practice. Refsum works in series and has through her art production visualized Christian ideas and symbols in materialized form, like: the cross/crucifix, sacraments, prayer/meditation, liturgy and texts. Her artistic concepts are informed by current theological research, and her subsequent formal interpretations intend to invite dialogues: ecumenical, inter-religious, including secular.
Refsum has held numerous artist’s talks, lectures and workshops, contributed in art projects, particularly in ecclesial spaces that comprise: liturgical use of art through art interventions and installations, performances, shows of various kinds, permanent embellishments and catechesis (see CV above).
One recent project titled Tante Vivi (see main page) exhibited in 2013, deals with Refsum’s personal story and the heritage from The Second World War. The theme is treated through the story of her nanny who had been a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. In this work, secular and religious aspects dissolve and meet. This human drama may be read both in a humanistic and a religious context.
Currently, Refsum continues her work on ecclesial themes, expanding her explorations of how the Christian tradition may be understood and communicated in our time.
- 2012 Bergmann, Sigurd. Grete Refsum: The Golden Rule; From Within and Without. ArtWay, 12 June.
- 2011 Fredriksen, Biljana. Artistic Process as Pedagogical Text. 25.09.2011.
- 2010 Caroline Levisse has published the article L’art “ecclésial” de Grete Refsum in the French web journal Narthex.
Academic background and work: 1976, Nutritionist Candidate, University of Oslo; 1977, Hovedfag/MSc Environmental Manager, University of Agriculture; 1978, Examen Philosophicum, University of Oslo; 1985, Diploma (Painting/Stained Glass) and 1992, Hovedfag/MA (Colour/Form), both at National College of Art and Design in Oslo; 2000, Dr. ing./Ph.D. Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Refsum has during the last years held a part time (50 %) position in Oslo National Academy of the Arts (Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo, KHiO) as Senior Adviser of research and development. She has been editor of the Annual Review 2004 and the prize-winning Annual Review 2008. During the last years, she has been working on the preparations of the forthcoming 200 anniversary of the art and design departments of KHiO.
Academically, Dr. Refsum has contributed to the development of research in art and design through her practice-based research and art/design development work. She has taken part in the international discourse on these issues through numerous conferences and publications, and been peer reviewer in several research conferences.
In the fall 2015, Refsum resigned from her academic position, taking early retirement through AFP.