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Pirjo Berg

Born in Helsinki, Finland, and now resident of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Pirjo Berg completed her MA in regional planning, (1991, University of Tampere, Finland), her BFA in painting (2000, School of Art and Media, Tampere, Finland), and the 2005    EDGE – Program, Artist Trust in Seattle, Washington.

Berg has had solo exhibitions in Washington, North Dakota, as well as Helsinki, Finland. 

In addition to numerous group exhibits in Finland and the United States, Berg created a 1997 installation for Finland’s 80th Independence Celebration, Kiasma, in the Contemporary Art Museum of Finland, Helsinki, Finland. Her work is in public collections in the North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, North Dakota; Valley Medical Centerin Renton, Washington; Sacred Heart Medical Center in Springfield, Oregon; Max-Hotel in Seattle, Washington; and the Labor Museum in Tampere, Finland.

Berg has competed residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont (2013); McCanna House, North Dakota Museum of Art, North Dakota (2013). In 2014, she is scheduled for residencies  at Willapa Bay Air, Oysterville, Washington, as well as Berlin, Germany.

When she isn't creating her own artwork, you can find Berg teaching painting and drawing classes at the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks.

Artist Statement

The stripes in my paintings are inspired by Finnish traditional rag rugs and wall hangings, which fill the floors and walls at the homes in my family. When I was child my mother, grandmothers and aunts, were busy designing and making them, they were always based on beautiful stripes. Even today those striped designs remind me of my home and childhood. 

My paintings are based on color, texture, and shape. The stripes, repetition, and texture are found not only in the familiar textiles, but also in geological formations. Over the years I have been travelling with my geologist husband all over the world (Nepal, Greenland, Arctic Spitsbergen, Baja California, Alaska, US South West Canyon Lands, Sierra Nevada and so on) as his field assistant. The landscape, especially the sedimentary rocks, and layers (or beds as geologist call them) are elements which have became familiar to me.

In geological formations, such as canyon walls, I see familiar striped patterns, but in an enormous scale and representing much longer periods of time. The core sample series was inspired by my experiences in pristine nature. I became interested in the possibilities to capture the essence of the geological time, the length of time that is difficult for us to comprehend. The real core samples collected by geologists reveal variations in climate, life forms and sedimentary composition during geologic history. 

My paintings have layers (or beds) of landscapes, which are squeezed by time and “flattened”. Some of the pigments I use in painting come from the rocks and the way pigments mix with water imitates the geological processes. I paint these landscapes flat and then force them into a cylindrical form in my core sample series. While I am painting stripes they turn into inner emotional landscapes. One can recognize the landscape in them, but they are in motion all the time as if you were watching a movie where you can slide back and forward in time and space.