For this Flashback Friday we will be looking at an artist who was an important part of the Manitoba Craft Council and the Manitoba ceramics community, the late Claudia Bergen who left us on October 29, 2012. Claudia was a long-time member who served as a member of the MCC board as well as acted as president of the board.
Claudia was a passionate artist who thrived in experimenting with her chosen medium. Manitoba Craft Council board member Grace Nickel, who new Claudia for over 30 years, recalls how “Claudia had every Ceramics Monthly ever published and took everyone apart and catalogued every article according to her indexing system. She kept this in the trunk of her car for an ever-ready resource”.
A large part of her practice focused on the ancient Japanese firing technique of Raku. She exhibited her geometrical handbuilt works in numerous group and solo shows including some at the former Manitoba craft Council Gallery. She reveled in meticulously researching her palette of glazes and firing temperatures for her Raku vessels. Her work was mentioned in two of Robin Hopper’s hugely popular ceramics books, Making Marks:Discovering the Ceramics Surface as well as Ceramic Spectrum: Second Edition.
Since Claudia graduated from the University of Manitoba ceramics program in 1974, she set out to share what she learned by helping to introduce ceramics to the wider communities of Winnipeg. She was integral in the early development of most of the ceramic programs in community centres when she worked for the City of Winnipeg Parks and Recreation department. She later returned to school to pursue a teaching degree which she received in 1991 becoming a special needs teacher at the Gordon Bell High School in Winnipeg where she taught until the time of her death.
Claudia Bergen personified the ideal artist and educator who shared the results of her own never-ending curiosity with the artists she encountered, ensuring that her passion for ceramics lives on through them.