Featured Artists

Interviews Archive Page

135  Christina Massey

134  Mary Grisey

133  Trina Perry Carlson

132  Anne Kelly

131  Louise Lemieux Bérubé

130  Dorothy McGuinness

129  Penny Mateer

128  Christine Mauersberger

127  Jim Arendt

126  Merce Mitchell

125  Louise Keen

124  Rosemary Claus-Gray

123  Mary Giehl

122  Emily Hermant

121  Robin Wiltse

120  Barbara Klunder

119  Megan Skyvington

118  Rachel Brumer

117  Heike Blohm

116  Shanell Papp

115  Carmella Karijo Rother

114  C. Pazia Mannella

113  Karen Goetzinger

112  Andrew MacDonald

111  Jeanne Williamson

110  Catherine Heard

109  Rosemary Hoffenberg

108  Cathy Breslaw

107  Leslie Pontz

106  Cas Holmes

105  Geri deGruy

104  Suzanne Morlock

103  Barbara De Pirro

102  Kathryn Clark

101  Noelle Hamlyn

100  Judith Mullen

99  Barbara J. Schneider

98  Merill Comeau

97  Beverly Ayling-Smith

96  Barbara Hilts

95  Mackenzie Kelly-Frère

94  Anna Keck

93  Pilar Sans Coover

92  Dolores_Slowinski

91  Leslie Pearson

90  Temma Gentles

89  Tilleke Schwarz

88  Anna Torma

87  Kim Stanford

86  Ingrid Lincoln

85  Anna Hergert

84  Joy Walker

83  Maximo Laura

82  Marie Bergstedt

81  Alice Vander Vennen

80  Xia Gao

79  Leisa Rich

78  Megan Q. Bostic

77  Sayward Johnson

76  Heather Komus

75  Sheila Thompson

74  Kerstin Benier

73  Molly Grundy

72  Nathan Johns

71  Lorena Santin-Andrade

70  Lisa DiQuinzio

69  Nancy Yule

68  Jenine Shereos

67  Bovey Lee

66  Nell Burns

65  Lancelot Coar

64  Elisabetta Balasso

63  Matthew Cox

62  Yulia Brodskaya

61  Lotta Helleberg

60  Kit Vincent

59  Barbara Heller

58  Catherine Dormor

57  Joyce Seagram

56  Yael Brotman

55  David Hanauer

54  Dwayne_Wanner

53  Pat Hertzberg

52  Chris Motley

51  Mary Catherine Newcomb

50  Cybèle Young

49  Vessna Perunovich

48  Fukuko Matsubara

47  Jodi Colella

46  Anastasia Azure

45  Marjolein Dallinga

44  Libby Hague

43  Rita Dijkstra

42  Leanne Shea Rhem

41 Lizz Aston

40  Sandra Gregson

39  Kai Chan

38  Edith Meusnier

37  Lindy Pole

36  Melanie Chikofsky

35  Laurie Lemelin

34  Emily Jan

33  Elisabeth Picard

32  Liz Pead

31  Milena Radeva

30  Rochelle Rubinstein

29  Martha Cole

28  Susan Strachan Johnson

27  Karen Maru

26  Bettina Matzkuhn

25  Valerie Knapp

24  Xiaoging Yan

23  Hilary Rice

22  Birgitta Hallberg

21  Judy Martin

20  Gordana Brelih

19  Mary Karavos

18  Rasma Noreikyte

17  Judith Tinkl

16  Joanne Young

15  Allyn Cantor

14  Pat Burns-Wendland

13  Barbara Wisnoski

12  Robert Davidovitz

11  Amy Bagshaw

10  Jesse Harrod

9  Emma Nishimura

8  June J. Jacobs

7  Dagmar Kovar

6  Ixchel Suarez

5  Cynthia Jackson

4  Lorraine Roy

3  Christine Mockett

2  Amanda McCavour

1  Ulrikka Mokdad


French Connection, 2010, 17"H x 14"W x 6 1/2"D, Mixed Media Sculpture.


The Happiest Christmas Typewriter, 2011, 6"H x 13.5"W x12"D Mixed Media Sculpture.





Artist: Marie Bergstedt, San Francisco, California, USA

Interview 82: Marie exhibited in three 2012 Festival exhibitions. In Oakville she was in Variegated Threads in the Halls of Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre. In Toronto she was in Where were you when Amy Winehouse died? at gallerywest and THREADSpace: Threading the 3rd. Dimension at the Canadian Sculpture Centre.

Subscribe to Artist Interviews here...

Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



Marie Bergstedt spent her first fifteen years moving back and forth between a foster home and her birth mother.  Lacking a rhythmic family structure, she picked up sewing, crocheting, and knitting at an early age, literally stitching her way through hard times.  In the 70s and 80s Marie studied a wide range of traditional art techniques, concentrating in hand-coloured photography and giving vision to memories from her childhood. She continued her studies and art practice while working as a fund development professional, transitioning to fibre art and completing private commissions for jewelry and clothing design after hours. Since returning to full-time art in 2006, Marie has combined the conceptual roots of her photographic images with the fibre and design skills first employed to mentally ground her childhood. Memories and life challenges inspire the themes of her recent fibre sculptures, which have been selected for 55 juried exhibitions, six books, and ten awards. Marie's website.


Artist: Marie Bergstedt


Tell us about your work.

Currently, I am reconstructing memories from my childhood. I use a combination of recycled materials, mostly handmade, with my own work. Hand building techniques such as crochet, knitting, embroidery, button work, painting, wire sculpture, papier-mâché and appliqué, dominate the construction. Recycled materials play an important, but less obvious, role that connects the work to both past memories and to other hands. The final sculptural object is related to both actual history and my imagination.


Mikey of Mallory, 2012, 48”H x 24”W x 2.25”D, Mixed Media Relief:  Cotton threads, beads, buttons, needlepoint canvas. Crochet, hand stitching and button work.  Polyester suede and felt back finishing.


From where do you get your inspiration?

Working fibres with my hands has been a vital source of my own power and mental stability for as long as I can remember. The rhythmic and repetitive motion helps me think things through and solve problems. I started sewing on a treadle machine when I was four years old with teenage friends pumping the treadle, which I could not reach, while I moved the fabric through the needle. I crocheted doilies for income at age 8 and started knitting at 12. The handwork and design skills just kept growing, but I did not seriously apply fibre as an art medium until about 2006. I believe fibre chose me. 


Self Portrait on The Happiest Christmas, 2011, 16"H x 14"W x 1"D, Mixed Media:  Buttons, beads, embroidery thread, antique trim and crocheted doilies over needlepoint canvas and wire armature. Wool felt backing.



What other mediums do you work in, and how does this inform your fibre work?

Even though all of my pieces relate to and are composed of fibre, I think of them as art, drawing on the full range of knowledge and skills needed by all artists. I have studied many areas of art, with a special concentration in drawing, painting and photography. Every medium or study influences me today and I couldn't do the work I do without the impact of the studies. The class I remember most is Visual Anthropology with John Collier and Larry Sultan. Those two incredible men taught me how to understand people and culture more deeply. That is more of what my artwork is about than technique or medium.
I create sculptural wire forms under many of my pieces. I paint with actual paint and with threads and buttons. I use papier mâché techniques, with gel medium, fabrics, Pellon and gut. I engage engineering skills to address the physical realities of keeping my sculptures stable and durable, while maintaining the more fragile qualities of fibre.



Clara, 2010, 12"H x 11"W, Mixed Media:  Buttons, glass beads, embroidery floss, needlepoint canvas, wire. Button work.


What bridges the works that you have created in differing media?

Although I have worked in many areas and love the design and photography work I have done over the years, everything I do eventually comes back to family. My family structure and personalities are complex. From my ancestors to the present, there is not one that doesn't hold mystery and fascination for me. I do not, and will not in the future, create every artwork about my family, but I expect I will always come back to it and my experience with family will always influence the way I look at all other experiences.


Charleston Queen, 2010, 21"H x 11"W x 8"D  (width variable by cord arrangement), Mixed Media Sculpture:  Antique and new cotton crochet with buttonwork over wire. Felt and fiberboard base.


Which is your favourite fibre medium?

For fun, I love knitting the most but I don't use much of it in my artwork. For art, button work could be said to be my favourite, but I never use just button work in a piece of art. My complex life experience enters my art execution along with my thoughts. I have few favourites in life. Grappling with the complexity is what drives me.


French Connection, 2010, 17"H x 14"W x 6 1/2"D, Mixed Media Sculpture:  Antique and new cotton crochet with artificial sinew and button work over wire.  Manufactured felt base.


What specific historic artists have influenced your work? 

Pablo Picasso is probably the most influential artist in my life. From my earliest years I was in awe of the gift he had to create over a lifetime, engage in several mediums and styles, be controversial, and always succeed. In my twenties, I was able to buy a re-possessed artist proof, signed by Picasso, related to lithographs produced for his 85th birthday. Taking another look at this piece hanging on my living room wall during my years of busy employed work has inspired me to keep striving toward becoming a full-time artist with time to grow before I was too old.

Vincent van Gogh has been the second most influential. I read all of his letters and those of his brother. I read biographies, studied his work and visited every museum exhibit I could access. With van Gogh I thought most about his will to work as an artist, in spite of all the personal trials he faced. He is like a member of my family. I never think of him as crazy, just finding his power to go on. 

The third was Renoir. He is the only one where I concentrated most on the work rather than his personality. Even then, I like it that he often worked with his family circle as subjects. I like the round-bodied women and amazing colour and light effects. I hadn't thought of it until now, but I think my portraits in button work have some visual influence from Renoir. 

Frida Kahlo has been an influence on the more personal level of being an artist who expresses much about her life and trials. I especially identify with her back problems. Although my injuries are not nearly as severe as Kahlo's were, I was a passenger in a car accident that damaged my spine in four places. I have had times when I cannot walk and periods of great pain. If I come to the place where I cannot recover from one of these incidents, I will need bone-fusion surgery, which I believe she had on at least one occasion. I respect her for always fighting back through all her personal and physical agony, and I see her as a person of power.

There are many others:  Emmet Gowin, photographer, was important to the years I worked in hand-painted photography as my primary medium. Even then, it was his approach to people that most impressed me. 

Monet was another colour and light influence in my mind, if not my actual artwork.


Final Phone, 2010, 3 1/2"H x 12"W x 9"D (variable by cord arrangement), Mixed Media Sculpture:  Antique and new cotton crochet with buttons and beads over wire and needlepoint canvas.  Needlepoint, embroidery and button work.


What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work?  

First I must emphasize that the artists upon whom I depend most are people who are not famous. They are the hard-working emerging artists in the art groups I attend regularly. I can trust them for honest, well-considered criticism. These artists are the members of "Weekends at 10" and "FACETS" in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am also indebted to the students I have met through fiber-sculpture teacher Carole Beadle. 

Lisa Kokin, a San Francisco Bay Area artist, certainly has been a strong influence.  I will refer to her more later on.

Chuck Close is an artist I have followed for many years, starting with his photo-realistic paintings in the 1960s and through to contemporary more pointalistic and button-related work. His personal struggles with a spinal artery collapse and continued work from a wheelchair with a paintbrush strapped to his wrist only bring him closer to my interests and artwork. To me, he is an artist of personal determination and power.

El Anatsui of Nigeria does not directly influence my work, but I value the beauty of his use of recycled materials and its relationship to culture. When I was working for 25 years as a development director in not-for-profit organizations, I had sufficient income to travel. I have not been to Nigeria, but I have had the honour of traveling in a number of developing countries. The people I met and the cultures I experienced are very important in my personal development. El Anatsui is an artist I associate with the remarkable people I have met through travel.

Just recently, I have become acquainted with the work of Jody Alexander. She is a San Francisco area artist whom I had the pleasure to meet at one of her exhibits.  Especially with her installations of found objects, I feel like I am experiencing my own memories and family. They are rough, prickly, and intimate all at once.



Princess, 2010, 7-1/2"H x 10"W x 5"D (variable by cord arrangement), Mixed Media Sculpture:  Antique and new cotton crochet, glass beads, silk, plastic, wire, manufactured felt lining. Crochet and hand stitching.


What other fibre artists are you interested in?  

I am following the work of a few artists with whom I have only recently become aware, because of my own work.

I value Ann Weber, Victoria May, Joetta Maue, Susan Taber Avila and Candace Kling for both their creative and professional accomplishments and for their ongoing support of my development, even though they have only an informal personal connection.

For button work technique, I find the work of Augusto Esquivel outstanding.

I also find Lauren Levy of great interest, especially since her button work has had some time to change and develop.

Lindsay Ketterer Gates' work is beautiful to me. 

Nick Cave is of interest both in technique and in performance.


Ringer, 2010, 6"H x 10"W x 8"D  (variable by cord arrangement), Mixed Media Sculpture:  Antique and new cotton crochet with button work over wire. Silk lining.


What role do you think fibre art plays in contemporary art?

It is encouraging that fibre has become more widely accepted as an art medium. However, I enter my artwork into exhibitions and competitions alongside the whole range of art techniques. I do not think of fibre as having to be separated out. I view it just as I do painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics and installations. Although I choose fibre because it is the technique that best works for me, I also believe that, in the broad field of contemporary art, there are actually more opportunities because of my choice. My work fits comfortably and is shown as general fine art, sculpture, fibre, craft, and sometimes installation. I hope fibre will become even more universally accepted as a technique.


Clara's First Phone 1907, 2010, 25"H x 16"W x 15"D, Mixed Media Sculpture:  Antique and new cotton crochet with button work over wire.  Felt and fiberboard backing.


Can you talk a bit about the commercial viability of fibre art and do you find it more difficult to show and sell your work than non-fibre artists?

As I stated before, I believe my work is shown more broadly because I use fibre as a medium. My work is not about fibre. Fibre is the physical tool I use to make art. I do think fibre is more difficult to sell in general and at a fair price. Fibre work is labour intensive so the hours invested by the artist are great. It is also less durable than most of the traditional mediums. I try to make art that will hold up well both in meaning and materials. However, I accept that my art will not be likely to have a sales rush.


Kitchen Companion, 15"H x 11"W x 4 1/2"D (Telephone),  plus cord hanging approximately 10" below phone variable, Mixed Media Sculpture: Antique and new cotton crochet with button work over wire.


What is your philosophy about the Art that you create?

I do not think of myself as having a philosophy. I express what I feel in the best manner I can. For me, having integrity is most important. I do not change because my style is not popular, understood broadly, or selling off the walls. I saved my money working at other jobs for many years so that I could support myself later as an artist. Some people think of older emerging artists as making art just for fun or as a hobby. For me art is often emotionally difficult and tedious repetitive work, stressed toward meeting deadlines. I work hard and long hours. I strive to be honest and professional. It is often not fun at all, but it is always wonderfully fulfilling. 



The Happiest Christmas Typewriter, 2011, 6"H x 13.5"W x 12"D, Mixed Media Sculpture:  Cotton crochet, button work, embroidery and linen threads, antique doilies and trim, old typewriter parts, wool knit and fabric lining and platform. Armature of wire, needlepoint canvas, clay and wood.


When did you first discover your creative talents?

I don't remember any discoveries. I have always loved working with my hands. In completing projects or assignments in school, I often came up with ideas or solutions that were not expected or "normal". Teachers have been the most likely to be supportive of my oddness and to encourage my creativity or quirkiness. I have had a number of conservative professional jobs where I mostly held back, but sometimes got into trouble because, underneath my "goody-two-shoes" exterior were some non-traditional expressions and behaviour.



The Happiest Christmas Typewriter, 2011, 6"H x 13.5"W x 12"D, Mixed Media Sculpture:  Cotton crochet, button work, embroidery and linen threads, antique doilies and trim, old typewriter parts, wool knit and fabric lining and platform. Armature of wire, needlepoint canvas, clay and wood.


Please explain how you developed your own style.

I suppose I have created a style by being stubborn. I have always been eager to learn about what others do and then determined that I would have to be different than they are. Although my work closely relates to others and builds on the shoulders of those before me, I try to find another way to express myself. So far I have not seen work that I think looks just like mine. It may be out there, so when I find it, I will need to move in a new direction.


Bergstedt working in her kitchen.


If a good friend were to describe your style, what would they say?

My relatives think I'm kind of crazy in what I say and do, but they accept me, "Oh, that was strange but it is just Aunt Marie." Most people in the art community of San Francisco would think me very conservative in life and artistic expression. My art style is not in step with most contemporary art schools or galleries. It is not seen as edgy or abstract enough. Underneath, however, I believe my work is quite thorny. Those who take time to explore beneath the pretty surface find some grit.



Bergstedt working in her kitchen.


Tell us about your mentorship with artist Lisa Kokin.

I first learned of Lisa Kokin when I saw one of her button sculptures on the cover of Fiber Arts Magazine. That was several years ago. I had no idea then that she lived near me or that it was possible to take a workshop or program with her. Years after seeing the magazine, which I had kept, I took two "Buttonology" workshops with her and began incorporating button work into my more mixed media sculptures. Lisa does lots of other work and has moved on from button work, so this is a technique I could learn from her and then do my best to exit into my own style.

In her mentorship programs, Lisa does a one-hour one-on-one session per month with artists. The artist is responsible to outline what they want from the program. In my case, I used the mentorship to be sure that I completed many of the professional business items on my plate that could become buried in the process of art making and exhibiting. I wanted to move forward as a professional.  

Lisa is a very hard-working artist. What better example of being professional? I spent very little critique time with Lisa, but I did bring in whatever artwork I was doing each month for her to see. Mostly, I set art goals each month. Lisa added ideas and offered a few connections where I would be helped by having an affiliation with her. She also wrote a letter of support for my application for an artist residency at The Studios of Key West, where I was a resident while doing this interview. 

Examples of my goals were: 
1. Establishing a website
2. Applying for higher-level exhibitions, including solo and 2-3 person shows
3. Increasing the overall number of applications for exhibition
4. Applying for residencies, and researching additional opportunities to grow myself as a professional artist. 
I used our monthly plan as a responsibility I must meet. It was an important relationship for reporting to someone you know works at least or harder than I do myself. I was still working a day job part time so this mentorship helped me push my limits of time.


View of the studio in Key West.


How does your early work differ from what you are doing now?

I did mostly hand-coloured photography and painting in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At that time, I longed to do fibre work but only more-traditional art classes were offered in the areas where I lived. However, it was then that I started working on memories of family, so conceptually there is a strong tie. For 25 years, I worked full time as a fund development professional. I had little time for developing conceptual art thoughts, so I studied a number of more design and fibre-related techniques in workshops, such as macramé, jewelry making, silk painting, surface design, felt making and screen printing. In the wee hours I had to spare, I made art to wear and jewelry for sale and by commission.  In 2005 I moved to working part time in development and went back to school. It was then that I was directed to Carole Beadle and fibre sculpture, the area I had always longed for. It took a couple of years for me to revisit my conceptual background, but here I am and the rest is history.


Sister Vicki, 2011, 37"H x 34.5"W x 20"D, Mixed Media Sculpture:  Cotton crochet threads and yarn, silk organza, antique doilies and bedspread, pellon, wire, structural components of found basinet. Crochet, hand stitching, embroidery, mache, wire armature construction.


What project has given you the most satisfaction and why?

I can't point to a project that has given me the most satisfaction. I can name three that stand out a bit from the rest. Last year I was invited to create a sculpture to be sold for a benefit to World Bicycle Relief. I have been an avid bicyclist since age four and have enjoyed four long-distance bicycle tours. I also believe in providing bicycles to help people in developing countries improve their living conditions. So, constructing a bicycle piece related to a Zambian woman and having it sell immediately at the stated value when put up for auction, was fulfilling.

My foster mother lived a long life, serving children. I did an installation of telephones to honour her following her death at more than 100 years of age. 

Currently I am at The Studios of Key West residency in Florida, reconnecting with my brother whom I had not seen for more than 35 years. He has been here for 10 years as an "Urban Camper" living day to day on the streets. I have one artwork finished and others coming related to Mikey. Getting to know him is most important to me but it also contributes to the satisfaction of art making.


Girl, 2012, Girl and Milk Can:  49”H x 19”W x 19”D, Mixed Media Sculpture:  Cotton threads, buttons, beads, polyester velour, leather, manufactured felt, wire, polyester stuffing, antique milk can.  Crochet, button work, appliqué, embroidery, hand and machine stitching over wire armature and polyester stuffing.


How did you initially start showing your work in galleries?

While studying photography at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, I was fortunate to have Katy Fishman as a teacher. Katy cared about her students being professional and being successful. Although it was not a required element of her curriculum, she taught everyone the basics of preparing applications, finding art opportunities and getting our work into exhibitions. I started then with photography and picked up on what I learned from Fishman when I returned to full-time art years later.



Triker, 2009  (2 objects = 1 artwork), Triker Girl:  32"H x 14"W x 13"D, Tricycle:  24"H x 26"W x 21"D, Mixed Media Sculpture:  Cotton, linen and artificial sinew threads; buttons; wire; gut; recycled parts of metal tricycle; and reconstructed antique doilies.  Crochet, button work and gut application over aviary wire armature.


Tell us about your studio and how you work.

Because I live alone, I use almost my entire house as a studio. I like to have the work in progress right there as I pass by. I pin up work at the end of my kitchen and look at it while eating. I fill the dining table with tools and freestanding projects that need a raised workspace. My former darkroom has become a wet room for dying and painting. What was my studio in the 1980s has become a space for photographing artwork and for storing supplies. My daughter's childhood playroom is all storage and her bedroom is a central business management office. Some completed work is stored in the living room on display and all of my sit-down handwork is done in a favourite rocking chair. Other things that need to be done at home do not distract me. I want to work on art so doing art distracts me from completing my home chores. I don't need to spend any time for traveling to a studio and I can make small changes to a piece or make a note of what I need in the course of other duties. I love being in the middle of my artwork all the time. I clean and straighten everything when I expect company, but try to group my social visits so that I only clear the art projects for a couple of days every two or three months. My bedroom and bathroom are kept off limits to the projects so there is always some calm space that is homelike and neat.


Getting On, 2009, 59"H x 24"W x 15"D, Mixed Media Relief Sculpture:  Reconstructed cotton crochet tablecloth combined with new knitting and crochet over wire armature.


Where do you imagine your work in five years? 

I make informal goals each year based on what I have accomplished the previous year, pushing up the bar for where I will try to exhibit and also for new ways to express myself. I have many ideas for art projects and expansion of techniques already. They just keep coming, so I don't expect to run out any time in my life. I am aiming for some solo and 2-3 person exhibitions and would be most grateful to be active in a few more exhibits outside the United States. If I am able to achieve finding gallery representation and making more sales I would be pleased, but working to be a better artist is most important. I see myself working as long as I am physically and mentally functional.


Countdown, 2008, 16"H x 39"W x 10"D, Hanging Sculpture:  Cotton crochet over wire


What interests you about the World of Threads Festival?

Although I have exhibited in a number of international shows, this is the first time I have shipped work outside of the United States. I am grateful for this opportunity to show in Toronto, a city about which I have heard many enthusiastic recommendations. I respect what I see on the website and the artist interviews sound like the festival will be impressive on a worldwide level. I certainly hope to be able to attend the festival and to learn more firsthand.


Ripples, 2010, 25"H x 14"W x 23"D, Mixed Media Sculpture:  Wool, rayon, cotton, wire, buttons, new crochet, knitting and buttonwork over wire armature, combined with recycled fulled felt sweater knitted by artist during her teen years.



If you'd like to make a donation to help support our
"Weekly Fibre Artist Interviews" series, you can do so here.


Subscribe To Artist Interviews here...

Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.