Looking at the finished artwork of Bernadette Kroft leaves one wondering “how did she do that?”
The transformation of tiny pieces of fabric glued onto a substrate creates magic and beauty.
Born into a working class family 47 years ago, Bernadette has traversed many hills and valleys. Kroft is originally from Calgary and later Vancouver and attended high school in Lumby.
Although she missed being taught by Sveva Catetani by only a year, Caetani encouraged Kroft as did other teachers along the way.
At age 16, she was the president of the Okanagan Artists of Canada and attended Okanagan College in Kelowna where she studied painting, drawing, pottery, print making, and instruction in abstract art. Her pottery teacher wanted her to specialize in the craft, and the printmaking instructor was also very encouraging.
She married her high school sweetheart at 21 and got caught up in farming, marriage, and parenthood with her dreams of being an artist still intact. She produced a masterful series of prints illustrating old buildings around Coldstream.
Parenthood, however, turned her world upside down. Her son was diagnosed with a life threatening illness, and a daughter came five years later with health challenges that were fortunately corrected.
After these harrowing developments in her children’s lives, Kroft admits that she suffered from nervous breakdowns on a cyclical basis.
“My pre-disposition to creativity was frustrated…I didn’t exist for myself,” Kroft said.
She didn’t know if her children, especially her son, would make it. As a perfectionist, she admits that she put pressure on herself. Her artistic endeavors were put on hold for 22 years.
Her family and the mental health community supported her journey back to health. Her husband sold the dairy farm and leased out other parts of their acreage. Her children, who are now as young adults, have survived and thrived.
Kroft still gets anxious, but she finds the creative process of art calming and satisfying. Her inspirations are nature, the environment, and people.
She is not going to give her art away, although she doesn’t feel that she is a business person, she said. Recycling materials from upholstery and wallpaper samplers is important to her ethos.
Kroft is one of the few artists featured in the Village Gallery that was accepted as an Associate Member without jurying. She will be the feature artist for the month of September and October, and other works of hers can be seen concurrently at the Lumby Library.