Q&A with Ottawa artist Karina Bergmans

Ottawa artist Karina Bergmans (photo credit: J. Derikozis)

I first met Karina Bergmans in October 2008, when I wrote a profile of her for the Ottawa Citizen. Her work was so whimsical, it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I’m happy to say that Karina has offered herself up for our first local artist Q&A.

How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it before? I work in textiles. I am a sewer. I make clothing and I also make sculptures and installations from reclaimed and recycled fabrics.



From what I remember, your studio is a very cool place….can you describe it for LTOttawa’s readers? My studio is the heart of my art practice.  It is a very bright and exciting place to be.  It is organized chaos. I painted the floor white and I have daylight fluorescent lights so everything is visible and cheerful. I like to work with bright colours in my clothes and art. I like to collect material, whether its new fabrics, recycled fabrics or clothing – I have quite a stockpile of material for the various projects I am working on.


So, what is it like to be an artist in Ottawa? Is the city an artist-friendly community? Being an artist anywhere is a challenging endeavor, but there is a great and very supportive artist community here.  It is small, but at the same time, really great because you are sure to know someone at any opening you attend and run into people you may not have seen in a while.  If you need advice on a task or a project, there is certainly someone with expertise that you can turn to.


What are you working on these days? Anything exciting coming up we should know about? I currently have a solo show called Text-ing et al at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte, ON. It runs until January 23, so there’s lots of time to take a drive out the pretty town of Almonte to make some text messages with my letter pillow project. I’ll also be doing a Clothing Reconstruction Workshop at the Ottawa Art Gallery on Saturday November 20th, from 1 to 4 p.m.


Last time we spoke you were just launching your clothing line, how is that going? It is going quite well.  My Kbergmans.com clothes are hand made and one-of-kind, so it is just me plugging away at the sewing machine sewing up sweaters and skirts.  I don’t use patterns, so each piece is unique and different.  However, there is a reason all clothes are not made like this.  The fashion industry and the history of clothing construction has reduced clothes-making to its barest of essentials through mass production and that is why most clothes look the same and are fit for a certain industry standard size. But people’s bodies are not industry standard, and making clothes like that is really boring. So I am working on making clothes to fit and look funky and be a special piece in your wardrobe.  Some fall items are currently available at the very cool Adorit Boutique as well as at Kbergmans.com. I’m also participating in two seasonal craft shows this month with my clothing and accessories: the ONE + ONLY Sandy Hill Holiday Craft Show and the Idle Hands Craft Sale.


Where do you find inspiration in Ottawa? I love biking and getting around quickly downtown on two wheels. You can’t beat Ottawa’s prettiness. We are spoiled with green space and museums and national cultural institutions.  I grew up in Ottawa, and though I did move away, I eventually came back years later.  I know this city so well, so there are few surprises. But I like that there are layers of memories in places I go, so there’s a history to being here.  I think there is a sense of comfort with being in place I know well, a sense of security, and in that I am free to imagine my own creative world.  If I was in a place that I still had to discover, energy would be spent on finding the ‘new’.


What are your favourite spaces to see great local art – any recommendations for LTOttawa’s readership?


Which local artists should we all know about? Jenny McMaster wrote a great article on my Text-ing project in the Sept/Oct Issue of FiberArts Magazine. She is an emerging artist, writer and curator and works in stitch, paper and encasutic. Bozica Radjenovic is a diligent knitter and sculptor and will have shows at the Ottawa School of Art and Karsh-Masson Gallery in 2011.  Dipna Horra is an audio/installation artist who just had a solo show this fall at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Cynthia O’Brien works in clay and makes beautiful conceptual creatures and sculptures. And, of course, everybody loves Kate Barry.



Want to view a time lapse of Karina working in her Ottawa studio? Sure you do.

Do you know an artist we should be profiling? Send us a note!

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