Busy scissors: Danish paper cut artist leads Duluth workshop

Photo: Justin Mitchell
Torben Jarlstrøm Clausen in the doorway of The Nordic Center in Duluth.

Special Release
Nordic Center

The Danish paper cut artist Torben Jarlstrøm Clausen was busy with the scissors when he recently had an exhibition and paper cut workshop at the Nordic Center in Duluth, Minnesota. The Nordic Center was pleased with the opportunity to present the Danish paper cut artist for the workshop’s dedicated participants.

Photo: Justin Mitchell
One of the artist’s happy beings, freed from the paper at last.

As an introduction to the workshop, Jarlstrøm Clausen gave lectures on experiences he has had on his travels around the world with his scissors, including several travels to the U.S. and Japan. After the lecture, he demonstrated how he cuts people out of the paper. Then it was the 35 participants’ turn to put the scissors to the paper:

“Paper was cut intensively throughout the event. The American participants were very easy to activate. After a short introduction to my universe of paper cut beings, young and elderly people immediately grabbed the scissors and cut loose. That was so nice,” says Jarlstrøm Clausen.

The Nordic Center in Duluth is devoted to celebrating Nordic traditions. Dr. Alison Aune, Professor of Art Education at the University of Minnesota, rejoices over this interest: “In Minnesota, we have a large and deeply rooted Nordic tradition. While Norwegians and Swedes predominate, we also embrace Danish traditions. And it was so nice to have Torben Jarlstrøm Clausen here to share his unique knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for this paper art tradition that was also practiced by the well-known fellow countryman, Hans Christian Andersen,” says Aune.

Photo: Justin Mitchell
Jarlstrøm Clausen helps the workshop participants with their paper cuts.

The paper cut universe of Jarlstrøm Clausen is inhabited with beings that have previously been engrossed in the paper. At that time the beings were weighed down by their own and ambient limitations:

“I can sense that the beings are in the paper, but at that time they are sad,” he says. “They are unresolved and have something in their life that plagues them. After some help from the scissors, they are all cut free from the paper and travel around happily in our diverse world.” According to him, this explains why all his paper cut beings smile and look happy.

The Nordic Center is a non-profit organization with the mission of perpetuating Nordic culture and arts in the United States.

Torben Jarlstrøm Clausen has had many paper cut workshops in Denmark, Japan, and the U.S., where the participants have the opportunity to put scissors to paper and redeem their very own paper cut beings. Participants experience the very best of cutting paper—the moment when the paper is unfolded and the happy paper cut being emerges. Torben Jarlstrøm Clausen is 52 years old and lives in Odense in Denmark with his wife, Lene. They have two girls aged 18 and 22 years. For more information, visit his website, www.jarlstroem-klip.dk, or etsy shop, www.etsy.com/shop/JarlstroemPaperArt.

This article originally appeared in the May 19, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.