“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
This quote is Katrina Berg’s favorite. The German poet’s words apply perfectly to Katrina’s thick, oil paint art pieces that she creates on wood while in her Midway studio. You may already be acquainted with Katrina and her work, but if you’ve never had the joy of coming across her art, it is my pleasure to introduce her and to share a little bit of her story.
Katrina is a creative, free spirit, very in tune with the elements close to her. A creator since childhood, she was constantly drawing or building in the environment around her; creating in nature has always been Katrina’s passion. While in high school the majority of her studies were geared toward architecture. However, when she attended college, Katrina went into education — she thought it was the right choice for her at that time. Katrina graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from Brigham Young University and then attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), enrolling in their landscape architecture program.
While in college, Katrina had the opportunity to study abroad; once in France studying French and dance, and once in Italy studying hill towns and Italian gardens. It was during these times of attending UNLV and studying abroad that Katrina would have two experiences that would change her life: she began painting after a close friend of hers gifted her a set of watercolors, and she met fellow classmate and Heber City native, Carl Berg.
Carl was very familiar with landscape design because his father was a landscape architect that did civil engineering, here in Heber. From the very beginning, Carl was very supportive of Katrina, and his no-nonsense, practical style complimented her imaginative, creative style. They made a perfect team in their group assignment projects, so obviously they started dating and eventually were married — right before graduating. The couple started a family right away and decided to move back to Carl’s hometown to be closer to family. So, in 2005, they moved to Heber.
Bringing the Outdoors In
Art was extremely important to Katrina and once they were settled in Utah, she and her family started visiting all the galleries, especially the ones in Park City. She realized she definitely wanted artwork in her home and decided “I just need to paint. I just need to paint whatever I want, and put it on our walls.”
That single thought would be the beginning of Katrina’s journey as a professional artist. Initially, she painted for fun, and at times, as a way to make her days a little brighter and more manageable. There was a calming power to the aspect of having absolute control while creating something beautiful, no matter what life hit her with. For Katrina, the act of creating and painting was very rewarding. Katrina could do what she loved while staying home with those she loved — her five children. As Katrina painted, she discovered that she really enjoyed working with oil paints and palette knives. The more she painted with them, the more clearly her style began to emerge. The unique color pallet, and the whole idea of thick paint that shines like stained glass, almost a mosaic of different pieces of light put together, really set her apart from other artists.
Eventually, Katrina started doing art shows, meeting and supporting other artists, and participating in the local art scene, where she met Sussette Gertsch (founder of the Midway Art Association). Katrina began participating in Midway’s Plein Air Festival and has painted plenty of historical barns and homes in the Heber Valley, her way of ‘preserving them’.
With her degree in landscape architecture, it’s no surprise that a lot of her art focuses on flowers and nature. She is still bringing the outdoors in, even if it’s not the way she had originally planned.
A New Expression
When Covid happened it really changed so much for Katrina, including her family and business, but most of all, her perspective. It caused a shift spiritually and culturally, and changed the way she expressed herself in and through her artwork.
One special thing you’ll notice about Katrina’s art is her “love of not conforming to whatever is popular”. She embraces being different and her art connects to multi- generations. Most of Katrina’s pieces now have a theme, symbolism, and song title associated with them. She’s proud of her multi-artistic experience, and this is why her favorite quote is so complimentary to her art and her beliefs. Katrina says that she hopes collectors feel God’s love for them when they experience her artwork. She shares, “Each painting is created and meant for someone specific — sometimes I don’t know who that is until later — but God knows.” Katrina’s faith and beliefs are an integral part of her creative process and she credits her “Heavenly Father and Savior” for her success. Katrina says, “Every step along this art journey has been supported and encouraged by Them — all that I’ve learned in my process, style, and chosen subjects comes from Them. I couldn’t be more grateful for our Savior & Redeemer, Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Parents, and the Holy Spirit.”
Katrina loves pushing boundaries with colors, and says that “there are a lot of ways to show depth and symbolism without it being predictable. I love surprises and unpredictability in artwork. I love making colors surprising. Art in person is so much more meaningful because of all the pieces coming together.” Her goal is to get people to experience her art in person because that’s when it comes alive, that’s how you can see the magic of the palette texture. She believes certain art is supposed to go through specific people for special reasons and she is happy to be a receiver.
Collectors of Katina’s art share unexpected experiences they have with her artwork, and she is always fascinated by their stories. If you have seen Katrina’s artwork, it’s hard to miss the creatures that are in so many of her series, past and present. For her, they represent family members and friends who have passed on. She explains, “We are never alone, this journey is not meant to be alone. All these things, especially the hard things we face, are meant to be faced together.”
It Runs in the Family
Having an in-home art business has had an impact on Katrina’s family as well. Her five children have helped prepare and travel for shows. Her older sons make frames for her smaller art pieces, and her younger sons like to help apply gold to the frames and sometimes the artwork. Her daughter has learned the ins and outs of running a business and even started her own cookie club. Katrina sells her art from her Midway studio and usually has pieces for sale at Beljar in Midway as well.
Katrina’s art ranges in size with the occasional oversized statement piece or large commissioned painting; however, 2022 found Katrina embarking on a ‘huge’ adventure. When Alpine Art’s director and curator, Susan Bonosconi, suggested that Katrina create an art show featuring large floral pieces, Katrina was all in! Taking inspiration from her ‘smaller’ pieces of work spanning the last 18 years; Katrina spent the majority of the year painting beautifully unique pieces for her 2023 collection.
During the creative process, she realized her paintings held a lot more meaning and depth due to the symbolism found in the finished images. While working on the second piece in the collection, Katrina decided that the series was going to be about “Becoming”. All the lessons, growth, hardships, and enlightenment boiled down into these beautiful, larger-than-life, happy paintings. Katrina learned to use her painting as a means of processing. But chose to share only the beautiful and joyful moments on her canvas, and to hold onto those, instead of the dark and difficult, and it has been such a blessing for her. The collection focused on flowers and birds that represent joy and celebration, “and sometimes cake! Because cake itself is a celebration!”
Katrina has a lot to celebrate. According to Alpine Art, Katrina’s ‘large-print-only’ art show, Becoming, experienced “[…] the most traffic we’ve had for a solo show.” Katrina loved working with Susan and Alpine Art and described the entire experience as wonderful. She shares, “I have four of the remaining pieces in my studio right now, but two will be leaving soon, and that’s always exciting to see where they go to visit or stay.”
After the show Katrina took a small break but is excited to return to Swiss Days. She explains, “There’s something about Swiss Days, something about the energy there. It’s a great way for people to be introduced to your work, and it’s such a fun environment.”
Always creating, Katrina is currently working on next year’s art show, The Measure of Her Creation. Katrina explains the title and theme, “The theme suggests, not only that women were created for a divine purpose, but also that women are divine creators. Through artistic expression, we hope to find a deeper understanding of our eternal role, and to impart doctrinal clarity concerning women. We seek the freedom to fulfill our divine measure as women, as individuals, and as children of God.”
As a friend and follower of Katrina, it has been just as much of an adventure for me to witness the different phases and series of her artwork throughout the years. Looking at her past pieces, there are a lot of the same ideas and style that are in her newer pieces, but they have a refinement and easy grace to them. Katrina is a giver and a teacher; she is one of the most genuine human beings you will ever meet. She is generous with her time, gifts, and advice. She wants aspiring artists to know that sometimes artistic style can take awhile. You won’t always start out exactly where you want to be, but don’t give up, keep going, use your mistakes, and it will find you. She is humbled by how far she has come and is excited to see how much farther she can go with the process and the ongoing journey itself.
The Measure of Her Creation Art Show will be on exhibit in Provo at the JKR Gallery. (1675 N Freedom Blvd Unit 7B, Provo, UT 84604)
Wednesday April 24th, 2024 – Friday June 7th, 2024.
There will be talks & special events during the exhibit.