The Beauty of Hope -The Contemporary Paintings of Katrina Berg
At times beauty is forged through suffering. If creativity is an illumination then so is hope.
It is this longing for peace that artist Katrina Berg expresses in her story of becoming a painter. This was a process that unveiled her true heart and artistic vision too long obscured by her experiences of trauma.
Berg’s paintings have a simplicity and quietness, color is pure and added in a tactile manner creating a balance between abstraction and figuration. Studies of landscape and botanical images are intersected by geometric bands, petals and leaves are build up with impasto.
The artist begins her process with simple materials -a pencil, an eraser and wood. The reflection found in the colors of stained glass inspires Berg’s treatment of surface as she adds gesso and paint with a palette knife and brushes. From this approach images emerge that recall the lush images of Wayne Thiebaud particularly in the reworking of the classic still life.
The role of creativity is key to her way of living and she is deeply connected to local women artists who supported her efforts to grow as a creative. “Many brave artists have made creating a priority and have lifted my soul along my artist journey. The more I became involved with art events in Utah, the more I noticed that very few women artists were not receiving the support and recognition as their male counterparts. Similarly, I feel so much support learning about local women artists who’ve passed on like Florence E. Ware, Katherine Louise Howe Robers and Minerva Teichert. When I’m struggling with all that I have on my plate or the desires within my heart…I feel a strong connection with Minerva, who like me, raised 5 children, painted in her living room, and would say, “I must paint.” Her legacy, studio practice, and determination give me courage to follow my own path as a mother artist.”
Berg studied landscape architecture at university and is for the most part a self-taught artist. She shares that while her work is imbued with a sense of color and happiness she endured a rare bone disease as well as sexual abuse as a child. Her openness about her experience is brave and so too her message: “Painting has lifted me through hard times and has given me the chance to do the same for others.”
If this tale of resilience can touch others – this is enough, but as well it is the artist’s hope that her work will bring joy to others and offer the path of creativity to fellow artists.
Berg tells us that painting for her was a way to process trauma. “Shortly after I began painting in college, I realized that trauma I had experienced as a child was affecting my personal relationships and emotional health. I asked a supposed-trustworthy source for help, and unfortunately, was denied. I didn’t know what to do but knew that painting gave me comfort while I was processing — so I painted nearly every day.
Painting became my solace as I started down the difficult path of healing.” If there is a sense a solace in Berg’s work it resides in her treatment of color, and line with a delightful simplicity. In the act of painting she offers joy and hope for those who have suffered and turn to creative outlets to process, heal and grow.