For this month, the Winnipeg River Arts Council features visual artist/muralist Annie Bergen.
Bergen painted her first mural at seventeen. Since then, she has created several large pieces in Winnipeg. She says, “The end result is something for everyone to enjoy and appreciate – adding color and beauty to urban landscapes.”
She also instructs in the Artists in the Schools program, travelling throughout Manitoba, working with students to research, design, and paint murals to beautify their schools.
Bergen enjoys the physicality of the large scale of murals and the fact that the design process pulls art and research together in a pleasing way. She graduated from University of Winnipeg, majoring in History, so she says, “The research part engages my mind and satisfies my inner historian.” She also enjoys incorporating mosaics into her art and community projects. She says, “I am especially proud of “Restoration,” the wall art on the Red Road Lodge in Winnipeg.”
Working with family, friends, and community groups to engage the Main Street population, she created this mosaic/mural, combining glass, tile, found objects and painted elements. Funded by the Manitoba Arts Council and the “Neighborhoods Alive!” organization, this wall art received Winnipeg’s 2013 Mural of the Year award.
In 2014, Bergen collaborated with Siyee Mann to create another mural, working with neighborhood kids and summer youth groups. This project, located on an MTS building on Salter and Burrows Streets, won another Mural of the Year award.
Bergen lives east of Whitemouth, with her partner Lee and daughter Aurora. Three years ago, they moved from Winnipeg, determined to follow their dream of self-sustainable life on a rural property. They wanted to be located near the Whiteshell and other parks, but still be close enough to Winnipeg to visit city family and friends.
Bergen gets inspiration from family, their new rural lifestyle, and the surrounding lakes, rivers, and wilderness. She also loves sharing her skills with young people, engaging the community, and collaborating with artists.
She sums up her artistic motivation a quote from Henry Ward Beecher – “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”