Meet Art Throng artist of the week – Elizabeth Bergeland
Editor´s Note: Artist of The Week Interviews is a series of artist interviews curated by Art Throng-a global contemporary art curatorial think-tank whose mission is to make art in all its expressions available across cross-cultural platforms. In these weekly interviews, we cover noteworthy artists from across the world, in different mediums of artistic expression from illustrations to design, sound to performance, photography to portraits, sculptures to motion. Here is our Sixth artist of this weekly series- Elizabeth Bergeland
Can you tell us a bit about your work process while creating an artwork?
I’ve got a few different processes at play with my work. With my drawings, the process feels a bit like how I imagine a writer’s process to be. I might catch myself in an amusing situation or interaction with someone in passing, make some notes about it on my phone then I’ll go home and draw it. The process feels like simply recording things I see. It’s mostly observational. My paintings are an entirely different beast and can take months and sometimes years to develop both conceptually and compositionally. While my drawings are typically about daily, often mundane but funny daily interactions, my paintings usually address a much larger thought or idea zoomed way out from our day to day interactions. Thoughts and ideas like, “I wonder if I’ll know it when I’m dying? Is happiness something that is worth pursuing? What would we be without it? Or, when does hardship and trauma cross the line from something that can make us stronger into something that will break us? And, is it necessary for our development as people?” You know… just your basic Tuesday afternoon meltdown sort of thoughts that keep us all up at night.:) A painting for me usually begins with pages and pages of writing, slowly developing the ideas surrounding the piece. Then I’ll take reference images with a model that often ends up redirecting the piece again in surprising ways. Their posture, movement, or eye contact does a lot for the direction of the piece. Then the piece goes from a small sketch in my sketchbook up onto a large, six-foot canvas the piece is almost always redirected again because the scale has such an impact. Standing in front of a piece of art in person is an entirely different experience than seeing it on a little screen. Making art is like giving birth- in the end, the piece has a completely autonomous life of its own, will be loved by some, hated by others, and take on meaning that was never a part of the artist’s original intent. Knowing that this is just how it goes means that there’s a lot of leaning in and letting go in the process of making art.
2. Is it true that in 2016, you moved from your work in fashion design to pursue a career full time in art? How did you know that was your calling?
Yes! I’ve always known I would be an artist, but when I finished my degree in 2006 I also knew that I wasn’t quite ready to take it all on. Quite frankly, at 22, I did not yet have the emotional maturity, work ethic, ingenuity, nor the discipline an art career would require. Instead, I took a “real job” as a designer (in bridal fashion actually!), married my college sweetheart, started a family and moved across the country (4 times). I arrived ten years later (2016) with three children and the accumulated angst of not having had the time or space to produce art in a serious way, but with sketchbooks filled to the brim with content ready to be realized. I was absolutely ravenously ready to pursue art in a more elevated, fulfilling form. I crammed my kids into one bedroom so I could have the other for a studio, quit my job, and hit the pavement painting. I often describe the feeling of that transition into full-time art-making to be more like a compulsion or a command rather than an intentional decision. As E.B. White perfectly stated, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” It was time!
3. You also make children’s book illustrations, what sparked your interest in that?
Developing our first children’s book was actually the concrete sort of project that played a big role in propelling me into full-time art-making. My writing partner (he writes, I draw) and I met on the playground of our kids’ preschool. He was a frustrated writer, and I was a frustrated artist. We bonded over parental exhaustion and the desire to pursue our art in a bigger way. We had always talked about creating a children’s book together, inspired by the interesting and quirky behaviors we observed in our children. A few years later, I sent him several illustrations of a character I had drawn with leaf ears sitting in a swing and said, “Her name is Edie, can you write a story about her?” He sent me back the first few pages and the project was born! As an illustrator, working in close collaboration with a writer like this is magic. It’s great to be able to play such an integral part in the storytelling.
4. Could you tell our readers about your debut children’s book, ‘Being Edie is Hard Today’?
Being Edie is Hard Today is about a challenging day in the life of this quirky little girl named Edie. Throughout the book, Edie imagines herself taking on various animal traits as her way of coping with various situations. ie: When she finds herself in the principal’s office, she imagines that she is a chameleon and that the principal can’t see her. When her mother asks her to brush her teeth she flops on the floor pretending to be a worm (all these behaviors inspired by real-life with kids, of course!). The book also gives the reader a unique look into all that the characters are feeling along the way by using emojis above their heads. We really wanted to give the “inside story” of what people are actually feeling in the moment. This is such an important detail of the book because all too often, our facial expressions do not show all that we’re truly feeling or experiencing in the moment. We wanted to tell Edie’s inside story. She’s holding a lot in all day, and behaving in a way that the adults in her life find to be confusing, frustrating, and even funny at times. The book rounds out at the end with Edie and her mother at bedtime. Edie is finally in a safe space to share everything she’s been going through, and she just has a big cry. We see the character’s facial expressions now, the inside comes out, and Edie sheds some real tears. It’s a social-emotional-learning book about the importance of finding a safe space and a safe person, so you can go ahead and cry! Tears can heal!
5. Which children’s book most inspired you as a child or in recent years?
Tomie dePaola’s work has always inspired me most- both today and as a child. I love his simple storytelling, the way he makes you fall in love with his characters, as well as his clean illustrations and color palette. I loved his autobiographical stories like The Art Lesson, as well as his wonderful folktales like Strega Nona. His work feels like a warm blanket to me.
6. How was your childhood, were you always curious about illustrations and art in general then?
I grew up in Colorado and spent most of my childhood outdoors. My mother was a musician and quilter and would often involve us in her process. My father was a geologist and had a love of landscape work, dabbling in watercolor painting himself. The arts were very much encouraged in my home. My mother always took us to the community theater, and we were exposed to a lot of music. I would spend many hours drawing and sketching. I took summer art lessons in the park and was pushed and encouraged by my parents to submit my work to various art contests as a child. Though I did draw often, I wouldn’t say that I was that kid who was constantly doodling or sketching everywhere I went. Even then, I spent most of my time observing. I loved people watching- always a fly on the wall. Just watching -always watching. In high school, my parents allowed me to take over the storage space under the stairs in the basement as a studio space, and I spent most weekends painting. I think a lot about how impactful it was to be raised in a home that encouraged the arts. That is a big thing that I feel really strongly about paying forward. I’d like to be that for children who maybe aren’t raised in homes where art is a priority.
7. An Artificial Intelligence Program Named Jarvis Has Been Appointed Curator of the 2022 Bucharest Biennial. What are your thoughts on a robot being appointed a curator, would that limit the curatorial choices?
Ooooh- interesting! I’ll be very curious to see how that plays out. Initially, I’d say that it doesn’t actually seem like that big of a departure from a human curator. The robot needs to be programmed by a human, right? A human that will no doubt be filled with their own biases (because we’re ALL filled with subconscious bias), which the robot will learn from. It seems as though the robot will just be filled with the bias of its programmers and other curators that it will be learning from? I will be curious to see the patterns of curation that Jarvis will potentially be able to point out or expose. Very intriguing. This entire thing sounds a bit like art itself will be selecting art. Very Meta!
8. Would you be interested in interacting with technology in your future work with a collaboration or a new medium?
Sure! I’m always open to thinking about how my work will shift and morph in the future. I hope and expect to not be painting the same thing, in the same way, using the same materials ten years from now. Currently, I work with traditional mediums only- oil on canvas, watercolor, and pencil on paper, etc… but since technology is such a significant part of our world, and my personal day today, all our work has to be in some ways derivative of technology already. In a very removed way, I’m already always collaborating with technology.:) I love seeing how artists like Avery Singer interact with technology and have really served to shift our ideas around the purpose technology serves in art.
9. You paint with beautiful bright colors, creating life-like renderings how do these works become a coming of age tale?
Art-making is simply diary-sharing. I’m always sharing where I’m at in the context of where I’ve been- a perpetual coming of age tale! I’ve always said that every piece is a self-portrait of sorts. I paint to process the things I’m thinking about and going through. Painting has been a way for me to grieve, to heal, and to process. I love using bright colors as a way of almost rewiring my memories or thoughts about hard things. The use of bright colors can serve to almost make light of the often difficult or dark things. In my “Whole/Half” series for example, which was a series of paintings depicting fruits and vegetables in two parts- cut in half on the left, and the whole piece of produce painted on the right, was a series about trauma and healing. The left, (cut in half, exposed) representing trauma, and the right representing healing. Each piece was painted with a background that is very quiet, minimalist, and linear but very colorful. In a way, the colors make the subject matter easier for me to address and talk about.
10. Could you speak a bit about the Philly PACK’s series of rotating exterior murals that you were a part of ?
Philly PACK is a children’s theatre near my home in Philadelphia. I collaborated with their director and production design team to develop an original, large-scale mural on their exterior windows for each of their productions (they put on three shows a year!). This project has been such a unique and challenging series for me. It’s really stretched me outside my comfort zone with both the scale (I’m working on an 18-foot window!) and the medium. Painting on glass presents itself with quite a few difficulties in finding the most successful materials and ways of application. Also, knowing that each one is temporary and will be scraped in a few months really shifts the process toward feeling a lot less precious. It forces me to not overthink it all too much, which I’m VERY prone to doing. 🙂 It’s been a refreshing project for me.
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Retention of information
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We may use any aggregated data derived from or incorporating your Personal Information after you update or delete it, but not in a manner that would identify you personally. Once the retention period expires, Personal Information shall be deleted. Therefore, the right to access, the right to erasure, the right to rectification, and the right to data portability cannot be enforced after the expiration of the retention period.
Transfer of information
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Data protection rights under the GDPR
If you are a resident of the European Economic Area (“EEA”), you have certain data protection rights and we aim to take reasonable steps to allow you to correct, amend, delete, or limit the use of your Personal Information. If you wish to be informed what Personal Information we hold about you and if you want it to be removed from our systems, please contact us. In certain circumstances, you have the following data protection rights:
(i) You have the right to withdraw consent where you have previously given your consent to the processing of your Personal Information. To the extent that the legal basis for our processing of your Personal Information is consent, you have the right to withdraw that consent at any time. Withdrawal will not affect the lawfulness of processing before the withdrawal.
(ii) You have the right to learn if your Personal Information is being processed by us, obtain disclosure regarding certain aspects of the processing, and obtain a copy of your Personal Information undergoing processing.
(iii) You have the right to verify the accuracy of your information and ask for it to be updated or corrected. You also have the right to request us to complete the Personal Information you believe is incomplete.
(iv) You have the right to object to the processing of your information if the processing is carried out on a legal basis other than consent. Where Personal Information is processed for the public interest, in the exercise of an official authority vested in us, or for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by us, you may object to such processing by providing a ground related to your particular situation to justify the objection. You must know that, however, should your Personal Information be processed for direct marketing purposes, you can object to that processing at any time without providing any justification. To learn whether we are processing Personal Information for direct marketing purposes, you may refer to the relevant sections of this Policy.
(v) You have the right, under certain circumstances, to restrict the processing of your Personal Information. These circumstances include: the accuracy of your Personal Information is contested by you and we must verify its accuracy; the processing is unlawful, but you oppose the erasure of your Personal Information and request the restriction of its use instead; we no longer need your Personal Information for the purposes of processing, but you require it to establish, exercise or defend your legal claims; you have objected to processing pending the verification of whether our legitimate grounds override your legitimate grounds. Where processing has been restricted, such Personal Information will be marked accordingly and, with the exception of storage, will be processed only with your consent or for the establishment, to exercise or defense of legal claims, for the protection of the rights of another natural, or legal person or for reasons of important public interest.
(vi) You have the right, under certain circumstances, to obtain the erasure of your Personal Information from us. These circumstances include: the Personal Information is no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which it was collected or otherwise processed; you withdraw consent to consent-based processing; you object to the processing under certain rules of applicable data protection law; the processing is for direct marketing purposes; and the personal data have been unlawfully processed. However, there are exclusions of the right to erasure such as where processing is necessary: for exercising the right of freedom of expression and information; for compliance with a legal obligation; or for the establishment, to exercise or defense of legal claims.
(vii) You have the right to receive your Personal Information that you have provided to us in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format and, if technically feasible, to have it transmitted to another controller without any hindrance from us, provided that such transmission does not adversely affect the rights and freedoms of others.
(viii) You have the right to complain to a data protection authority about our collection and use of your Personal Information. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint directly with us, you have the right to lodge a complaint with your local data protection authority. For more information, please contact your local data protection authority in the EEA. This provision is applicable provided that your Personal Information is processed by automated means and that the processing is based on your consent, on a contract which you are part of, or on pre-contractual obligations thereof.
California privacy rights
Consumers residing in California are afforded certain additional rights with respect to their Personal Information under the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). If you are a California resident, this section applies to you.
As described in this Policy in the information collection section above, we have collected the categories of Personal Information listed below in the past twelve (12) months:
- Personal identifiers (such as email address, phone number, etc)
- Person’s characteristics (such as age, gender, etc)
- Biometric information (facial recognition, fingerprints, etc)
- Internet or other electronic network activity
- Purchase history
- Geolocation data
- Education records
In addition to the rights as explained in this Policy, California residents who provide Personal Information as defined in the statute to obtain Services for personal, family, or household use are entitled to request and obtain from us, once a calendar year, information about the categories and specific pieces of Personal Information we have collected and disclosed.
Furthermore, California residents have the right to request deletion of their Personal Information or opt-out of the sale of their Personal Information which may include selling, disclosing, or transferring Personal Information to another business or a third party for monetary or other valuable consideration. To do so, simply contact us. We will not discriminate against you if you exercise your rights under the CCPA.
How to exercise your rights
Any requests to exercise your rights can be directed to us through the contact details provided in this document. Please note that we may ask you to verify your identity before responding to such requests. Your request must provide sufficient information that allows us to verify that you are the person you are claiming to be or that you are the authorized representative of such person. If we receive your request from an authorized representative, we may request evidence that you have provided such an authorized representative with power of attorney or that the authorized representative otherwise has valid written authority to submit requests on your behalf.
You must include sufficient details to allow us to properly understand the request and respond to it. We cannot respond to your request or provide you with Personal Information unless we first verify your identity or authority to make such a request and confirm that the Personal Information relates to you.
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Do Not Track signals
Some browsers incorporate a Do Not Track feature that signals to websites you visit that you do not want to have your online activity tracked. Tracking is not the same as using or collecting information in connection with a website. For these purposes, tracking refers to collecting personally identifiable information from consumers who use or visit a website or online service as they move across different websites over time. How browsers communicate the Do Not Track signal is not yet uniform. As a result, the Website and Services are not yet set up to interpret or respond to Do Not Track signals communicated by your browser. Even so, as described in more detail throughout this Policy, we limit our use and collection of your Personal Information.
We may display online advertisements and we may share aggregated and non-identifying information about our customers that we or our advertisers collect through your use of the Website and Services. We do not share personally identifiable information about individual customers with advertisers. In some instances, we may use this aggregated and non-identifying information to deliver tailored advertisements to the intended audience.
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Social media features
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Links to other resources
The Website and Services contain links to other resources that are not owned or controlled by us. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other resources or third parties. We encourage you to be aware when you leave the Website and Services and to read the privacy statements of each and every resource that may collect Personal Information.
We secure information you provide on computer servers in a controlled, secure environment, protected from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. We maintain reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards in an effort to protect against unauthorized access, use, modification, and disclosure of Personal Information in our control and custody. However, no data transmission over the Internet or wireless network can be guaranteed.
Therefore, while we strive to protect your Personal Information, you acknowledge that (i) there are security and privacy limitations of the Internet which are beyond our control; (ii) the security, integrity, and privacy of any and all information and data exchanged between you and the Website and Services cannot be guaranteed; and (iii) any such information and data may be viewed or tampered with in transit by a third party, despite best efforts.
As the security of Personal Information depends in part on the security of the device you use to communicate with us and the security you use to protect your credentials, please take appropriate measures to protect this information.
In the event we become aware that the security of the Website and Services has been compromised or Users’ Personal Information has been disclosed to unrelated third parties as a result of external activity, including, but not limited to, security attacks or fraud, we reserve the right to take reasonably appropriate measures, including, but not limited to, investigation and reporting, as well as notification to and cooperation with law enforcement authorities. In the event of a data breach, we will make reasonable efforts to notify affected individuals if we believe that there is a reasonable risk of harm to the User as a result of the breach or if notice is otherwise required by law. When we do, we will post a notice on the Website, send you an email.
Changes and amendments
We reserve the right to modify this Policy or its terms related to the Website and Services at any time at our discretion. When we do, we will revise the updated date at the bottom of this page, post a notification on the main page of the Website, send you an email to notify you. We may also provide notice to you in other ways at our discretion, such as through the contact information you have provided.
An updated version of this Policy will be effective immediately upon the posting of the revised Policy unless otherwise specified. Your continued use of the Website and Services after the effective date of the revised Policy (or such other act specified at that time) will constitute your consent to those changes. However, we will not, without your consent, use your Personal Information in a manner materially different than what was stated at the time your Personal Information was collected.
Acceptance of this policy
You acknowledge that you have read this Policy and agree to all its terms and conditions. By accessing and using the Website and Services and submitting your information you agree to be bound by this Policy. If you do not agree to abide by the terms of this Policy, you are not authorized to access or use the Website and Services.
If you have any questions, concerns, or complaints regarding this Policy, the information we hold about you, or if you wish to exercise your rights, we encourage you to contact us using the details below:
We will attempt to resolve complaints and disputes and make every reasonable effort to honor your wish to exercise your rights as quickly as possible and in any event, within the timescales provided by applicable data protection laws.