Thursday, February 23, 2012

Heidi Berger's Contribution to Art in Canada and Barbados

Homemakers: Portrait of a woman – Heidi Berger

By Patricia Thangaraj

Women always play multiple roles, first as daughters and/or sisters then as wives and mothers, so it is nice to capture them when there are in their own space, defining themselves as women first. This is exactly what Heidi Berger captures in her art.

Berger first fell in love with art as a teenager and in order to satisfy her new-found curiosity, her parents sent her to private lessons with Canadian Art Instructor, Karl Kronlachner for four years.

However, in the 1960’s, art was considered something that persons did as a hobby and not something that one pursued a career in and therefore, after graduating from high school, she accepted a scholarship to the University of Waterloo and followed the traditional path of going to university where she completed a Bachelors Degree in French and Spanish. 

Berger, who also holds a Masters Degree and Ph.D. in German and has trotted the globe, returned to her place of birth, Germany, where she, her husband and child lived for a few years. During this time, she opened a gallery which showcased native Canadian art which Europeans were attracted to since they had never seen this kind of art before. She and her husband would also have their second child there.

They then returned to Canada where Heidi worked for the Calgary Olympic Committee (COC) for eight years until the 1988 Winter Olympics held in that city before moving on to Edmonton to work at the University of Alberta in the Department of Extension to work as an administrator in adult education, helping to organize programmes for persons interested in running for office in the Municipal Government, a programme which equipped persons with an understanding of what exactly they were getting into.

Aside from the initial four years of training, Berger is a self-taught artist who has studied art in books, conducted detailed research for the different types of art out there and the various artists and entered competitions where artists and teachers of art that are respected in the business were judges. 

In this way, when she started to gain recognition and praise for her art and won various international art competitions in such places as Colorado, Michigan and Louisiana she knew that she had proven herself in this industry and reached the pinnacle. 

Therefore, she then stopped submitting art for competitions and started focusing her time on teaching art and showcasing her work at galleries, which she has done since she and her family made Barbados their home approximately 20 years ago. Her first showing was in 1988 at the Verandah Gallery of Bridgetown, now known as the Gallery of Caribbean Art. She has also showcased at other galleries such as the one at Tides and other places like Queen’s Park.

Her last award was the Carmichael Award, which is the critics prize for established artists given to her for her piece entitled, “The Silk Weaver’s Daughter,” a portrait she captured from her travels to Cambodia. She also submitted another piece “I Heard Someone Calling My Name” to that show at the Bridgetown Gallery in 2011.

Berger, who likes to paint mostly images of women, particularly Caribbean and Barbadian women in their natural element, and also dabbles in mosaics, said that her next show would be in February 2013. 

Until then, she can be found at Art Splash, teaching classes this month on “Introducing collage into your work” and next month on “Experimenting with Texture” and then in April, these students would showcase what they have learnt in Explorations 3, also to be held at Art Splash.

From: The Barbados Advocate
To view this article online, please click here.

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