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Bergen Rose was born in Washington DC. After her mother took ill, she spent some of her early childhood living with her grandparents on a farm in Oklahoma. Bergen’s grandmother, an artist who often painted landscapes of her rural surroundings, was the first to put a paintbrush in Bergen’s hand. In the late 1970s, Bergen studied art at Santa Monica College under Martin Facey. Through Martin, Bergen was able to meet his mentor, artist Richard Diebenkorn, who inspired her to pursue art. In 1979, Bergen embarked on her career as a professional artist, participating in Judy Chicago’s historic Dinner Party Project. Bergen has now been exhibiting her work for more than forty years, including in Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Seattle, and France.
Throughout the years, Bergen has traveled extensively. In the 1970s, she lived in England and Spain for three years, an experience which fueled her love of art and adventure. In the 1980s, she would often take trips to Nepal, hiking, painting, and visiting Tibetan monasteries. She hiked in Africa and painted Mt. Kilimanjaro, bicycled across New Zealand, and ducked bullets in Sri Lanka. Among her travels, Bergen has spent time exploring and painting in France, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Norway, and Japan. In 1994, she moved to the Northwest, where she continues to live and work.
Bergen has experimented with a variety of mediums, including studying and exhibiting with master Japanese calligrapher Yoshiyasu Fujii in the art of ink painting and calligraphy. She has worked in fiber art, winning the 2011 “Coup de Coeur” award at the international textile and fiber art expo in Beaujolais, France. She has also worked in acrylic paint and encaustic wax. She now works predominantly in oil paint and recently cold wax. Bergen draws inspiration from painters Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, JMW Turner, and George Inness, as well as the poetry of Rilke, Lorca, Leonard Cohen, Mary Oliver, and William Blake. In her paintings, Bergen explores complex elements of the human condition, including connection, betrayal, joy, loneliness, and the gray areas in between. In recent years, Bergen’s work has featured her “standing tall” women, through which she explores the notion of freedom – the freedom to move away from obstacles of fear, tragedy, and oppression, and move toward hope, opportunity, or even a new life. Bergen hopes that her paintings achieve an “in-between” notion, like reaching for the content between lines of poetry or the pause between notes of music. Bergen considers herself an emotional painter, making art because she has deep feelings for nature, beauty, and humanity.
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