50 Artists to Watch: Kjetil Groven

Norwegian-born artist Kjetil Groven, moved to South Dakota in 1999 to finish his mechanical engineering degree.

“I am involved in one form or another with Scandinavian folk art. I work with wood, steel, bone, and leather. From the big to the smallest, I have built several traditional Norwegian log/timber buildings. I’ve also made traditional furniture where I forged the hardware. I also have collaborated with others on large projects – like a carved door for a Stave Kirke, where I forged the hardware.

Most recently Kjetil has been forging traditional woodworking tools and has taken up Norwegian knife making – an art form he first learned as a teenager in Norway.

“It was natural to start this up again since for the past three years I have been supplying Norwegian laminated blades to knife makers in the US.

I am also making old style wood working tools, and am currently developing the design on a tool for ale bowls. I hope to do more artistic forging this winter. “

Kjetil also works with green wood, to make traditional kitchen utensils, bowls (both carved and turned), shrink boxes, and other items.

“This activity is dependent on when I can find wood. Usually I can find wood where a power line has been cleared but it is hard to get it when I want it!”

Kjetil keeps busy in his studio with dozens of projects and special orders. He’s currently working on a special project for someone in Norway that has really captured his attention –  a door knocker and door handles for all the interior doors of a cabin, all done in the 17th century style.

“I hope this will carry me into making more objects from this period. I do love the style of iron and wood work from the middle ages up to the 18th century. I expect to make several objects this winter from this time period.”

In addition to his traditional artwork, Kjetil has taught several classes in forging at North House Folk school in Minnesota and at Vesterheim Museum in Iowa. In 2015, Groven received a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the South Dakota Arts Council to teach a student to forge the necessary tools to build a Norwegian Timber frame (grind bygg) and to then build the structure.

Kjetil and his wife, Lori, have two girls and live in Rapid City.


50 Artists to Watch is a special project we’re embarking on in celebration of our 50th anniversary at the South Dakota Arts Council. This series of short artist features is intended to share the work of South Dakota artists on a wide platform. It is not intended as a list of top or best artists. It is not presented in any particular order. Featured artists are being selected from nominations sent to us. You can nominate an artist by emailing sdac@state.sd.us. We can’t include them all, but we’ll keep all nominations on a list for future features and blogs.

We welcome your continued suggestions for 50 Artists to Watch and your (constructive) comments about the work of those being featured.

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