CV & biography

2022 10 CV_complete_Refsum
Chronological list of artistic activity, publications, academic work and education.

Grete Refsum (1953) is a professional visual artist, working on existential topics related to tradition and memory, religion, psychology and traces from World War II.

During 35 years, she systematically has explored Christian ideas and symbols: the cross/crucifix,She plans to extend her knowledge base with a course in psychology of religion. sacraments, prayer/meditation, liturgy and texts. Theologically, the work is rooted in Western traditions, The Roman Catholic Church and The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway. Her artistic concepts are informed by theological research, and she often works in series. The formal interpretations intend to invite dialogues: ecumenical, inter-religious, including secular.

Drawing on a wide specter of artistic competences from painting, sculpture and the production of stained glass windows, she has developed a personal technique of binding metal thread in combination with found materials: stone, wood, rubbish, glass and textile. Since 2010, she has initiated several interactive, public works within ecclesial spaces, based on thrown away textiles.

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.

Since 2010, she has approached themes related to World War II. The first project titled Tante Vivi, prisoner no. 24127 Ravensbrück (exhibited in 2013, now in Landeskogen Peace Center, Norway), deals with her nanny, grandaunt Live Carlmark (born Thune), the sister of her paternal mother, who protested against the Nazi occupants in Norway, and hid Jewish refugees in her apartment in Oslo (autumn 1942). In spring 1943, she was imprisoned in Norway (Grini), and in October transported to Ravensbrück, where she barely survived 18 months imprisonment.

The second project was made (2017) for the Gedenkstätte in der JVA Wolfenbüttel (Germany), Neugestaltung. It is a modeled relief, made as a paraphrase after a photograph of a lost relief made by her late husband’s father Wilfred Jensenius. It depicts himself and two comrades imprisoned in a cell in Wolfenbüttel in 1945. Refsum also has participated as Zeitzeuge/contemporary witness to the new memorial archives.

The third war related project is a work of  micro history, in which she tells her personal story related to the Second World War, based on the fact that she was named after a Czech Holocaust victim, who hopefully will have her Stolperstein set in Prague in 2022.

During the last three years, Refsum has accomplished a Sorgprosjekt/Mourning project in response to the loss of her husband in 2017, shown firstly in the Gedenkstätte in der JVA Wolfenbüttel the autumn 2021, then in Sagene church (Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran) 14th May-6th June 2022, and partly in september in the collective exhibition Art Direct West, Fossekleiva (Viken, Norway).

From the fall 2017 to summer 2020, Refsum has studied par time at MF – Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society. In the latest course on church architecture (RL2615), she wrote about Vestre Aker kirke.