Saturday, March 9, 2013

Nordic Paper Cutter Brings Work to Seattle

Like most kids that grew up in a northern climate, I tried my hand at cutting paper snowflakes when I was younger. Little did I know I was practicing psaligraphy, an art form which Norwegian-Danish artist Karen Bit Vejle has elevated, using painstaking patience and concentration, to a level most of us couldn't imagine. Using only scissors and paper as her tools, Bit Vejle creates stunning, multi-faceted works from a continuous sheet of paper. If you live in the Seattle area, you'll want to check out her upcoming exhibit, "Scissors for a Brush," which runs March 22–June 16 at the Nordic Heritage Museum. Bit Vejle will visit the museum and lead public tours of the exhibit at 2 p.m. on Fri. and Sat., Mar. 22 and 23.

Bit Vejle didn't start the project with an exhibit in mind. Rather, she cut paper simply because she couldn't stop herself, she explains in her artist statement. “I have finished a number of cuttings over the course of nearly 40 years, and as I never had anywhere else to keep them, they had just remained hidden underneath my rugs,” she says. “They might have stayed there forever, if a colleague had not happened to look under my rugs and find them. He thought they should see the light of day. Ever since, these paper cuttings have taken on a life of their own and started a crusade for the rediscovery of paper cutting.”

Exhibition curator Sissel Guttormsen says, “[Bit Veile] is one of very few in Europe who can cut at such an advanced technical and artistic level. There is a great degree of humor in Karen Bit Vejle’s world of imagery; humor and the ability to identify joy in small things. Just as often, though, she confronts deep seriousness and themes intended to invoke involvement and reflection.”

Alongside Bit Vejle’s work, "Scissors for a Brush" will feature four original paper cuts by Hans Christian Andersen, never before seen in the United States. For exhibit details, visit

For other not-to-be-missed Norwegian events on both sides of the pond, be sure to check out the Kalender in Viking magazine each month! 

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo: Lasse Berre

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