Kristina Berry

Out of Darkness, Pueblo Arts Alliance, June – July 2020

Where Do I Find Comfort?
Quilted mixed fibers
48 in x 54 in

We are made up of all the events that happen to us in our lives – what those events “mean” has to do with how you come away from it. I share my traumas, not to cause trauma in another, but to show my journey toward mending my soul. I am just hoping that those who have been somehow traumatized or hurt in any degree can find their way toward healing. 

Nos Sunt: We are More
mixed media and acrylic on canvas
16 in x 20 in

A Dozen Roses: A Gift from my Pain
mixed media and acrylic on canvas
30 in x 30 in

Art is something I have always done and always been drawn to. Creating art makes me think of growth, and of healing – I went forward from there and realized that making art, and putting my story into it, made me feel better. I realized it could be an avenue or a vessel for healing for me. I process my trauma through my art. 

We are made up of all the events that happen to us in our lives – what those events “mean” has to do with how you come away from it. I don’t tell my stories to try and get pity from anybody – that’s not what I am after. I just want people to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Pain and beauty should both be displayed. I cannot separate them. In the past, I never thought that my story could be important enough – I have been humbled by different experiences in my life, so I’ve stayed in the background. For me to put it out there was a big change.

After having spent the early half of my life in situations that had a profound impact on my life as an adult, I have found a couple common tropes. These images and symbols have become the groundwork for my current practice in painting and sculpture. I have found that the sensory experience of lilacs and roses can take me away to a place where I am no longer in danger. Smelling things can certainly trigger a memory response, and for me, these scents remind of my youth and the happy memories associated with that. Additionally, I incorporate “stripes” as figurative imagery for a time in my life that has been very formative. I have found the stripes can cause a sort of anxiety in me because of the long-term effects of being incarcerated. 

Before graduate school, art was about making beautiful things, or making a world – making something that was an escape for me, and I didn’t realize why. In my graduate program, I realized that I could put myself in this art and doing so could make it very powerful – not just for me, but for other people as well. I am dealing with a lot of raw emotion and experience, and coming to grips with reality instead of fantasy. I feel empowered to come out and talk about this. It is very important to me that it be true – I need to be true to myself.

I’ve started to learn that displaced people like me have a lot of similar experiences. Not every detail is the same, but there is always a core that seems to resonate with people that have been prey. They have a similar energy. Every time you talk to them, they were also told never to tell anybody about what happened to them. But forget that…. I’m telling everybody! You don’t have to just try and deal with it. Tell somebody. Believe in your own strength. My art is my way of turning something that gives me discomfort into something I can find comfort in.

Don’t let them win!!

— Kristina Berry