Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Art and Liberation: A new interview

(Photos courtesy of Lora R Fisher)

Jan vonBergen: Fitting the pieces together.

“You can feel really good everyday of your life when you do what you love, whether it’s read or do art or walk or dance or whatever you love to do. It makes you feel alive, that feeds you and gives you what you need everyday.”

In the last 3 years, Jan’s life and art has changed. Her life used to revolve around full-time teaching and family with her art making fitting in whatever space was left. It was a fulfilling puzzle with many pieces. Retirement was a mystery at first and a word Jan dislikes, “It sounds deadening. I would call it liberation.”

Just like the modular, sectional prints in her new show, ‘Urban Imprints’ at Print Arts Northwest Gallery, Jan’s art and life fit together now in many new and interesting ways. And Jan says she couldn’t be happier about it, “I have liberated myself enough so that I can explore things I’ve never had a chance to do. Now I get to choose where I’m going or not going. It’s ok to take the day and spend it all doing color tests, or reading. It’s ok to take the time to live life.” And living life for Jan now means body building for her health, working in her garden, teaching at Multnomah Art Center and substituting in the Beaverton school district, volunteering in her granddaughter’s classroom as well as developing a new body of artwork.

In her new show, ‘Urban Imprints’, Jan has assembled a collection of colographs and solarplates based on the concept of modular print plates. By using this ‘puzzle’ piece concept, Jan has created unique works of art with warm and cool colors, calligraphic marks and chine-colle’. Also included in the show are three ceramic vessels from her newest clay work. “I get to put my loves together. I love building things and cutting things out,” says Jan.

Although Jan has done ceramics since college she’s using her time now to explore new ways to work with clay throwing the pots in sections and sculpting multiple lids, “They say there’s nothing new in art except imagination. So you can take a medium like clay or printmaking, but it’s all in what you do with it. It’s very gratifying to make something, I like working hands on.”

Jan also creates an artful garden filled with gorgeous plants, an oriental inspired tea house, stone patio and walkways. Since her liberation, she’s become a member of the Portland Garden Club because she loves learning new things. Jan says, “Learn as much as you can and do what makes you happy. Enjoy life, it’s so short…you might get there, you might not, but be happy with where you are, be proud of yourself.”

And now, that the puzzle pieces of Jan’s life falling into place, she’s learning more about herself and her art as well as making the most of every moment. Jan says, “I woke up one day and said, wow, this is great. I’m not afraid of anything anymore, I can do this. It’s a great feeling, one of the best parts of my entire existence. I’ve developed more. I’ve created more. I’ve done more than I have in just years and years, better relationships, new learning curves.”

Whether in the studio, teaching, gardening, being a parent, grandparent and wife, it’s a busy life filled with many pieces, and Jan wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I won’t live long enough to do all the things I want to do, but I’m gonna try,” says Jan.

You can hear Jan talk about her experiences in a podcast of this interview on Voices of Living Creatively.


goldenbird said...

What an inspiring interview! Wonderful.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

Jan is an awesome and inspiring person and artist. I was fortunate to meet her when my children were students in her arts classes. And I look forward to learning more from her when I take her clay class later this month.