All posts by Shelah

About Shelah

(Co-Editor-in-Chief) lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and six kids. She has a BA in English Teaching from BYU, an MA in American Culture Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and an MFA in Creative Writing at BYU. Her work has been published in Dialogue, the Mormon Women Project, Irreantum, BYU Studies, and Segullah. When she’s not writing or wrangling, she can often be found running through the city in the pre-dawn darkness.

An Interview with Featured Artist Katrina Berg

kat28.800Segullah: What are your sources of inspiration?

Katrina: Real life moments. In my cake series: one cake depicts the bundt a dear friend brought when we were drowning with twin babies, and another represents the cheesecake I craved incessantly while pregnant with these sweet boys. Some paintings are meant as learning experiences like the cake and flowers that tell of a mother who suggested her son bring his wife flowers instead of giving up on their marriage. My latest series of abstract mountains are a reminder of the constant strength and peace I feel surrounded by the majestic Wasatch Mountains.

Segullah: What do you want others to take or feel from your work?

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detail from “Sink with a View”

Katrina: Life was meant to be difficult and messy at times. My work are like sweet treats, begging us to remember sweet times of the past and welcome those in our future. There is enough harsh reality that we endure each day. These pieces are meant to help us savor the good in life: to celebrate the small moments of happiness, peace, or joy. If they can remind, or lift someone having a hard day (or a hard year, lol!), they have made their mark.

Segullah: How do you feel that your testimony is reflected in your work?

Katrina: Like so many, I endured some pretty tough stuff as a small child. In the dark, lonely, and difficult times, I could not deny the Savior’s ever-presence. I learned to rely on my Heavenly Father and to listen as He helped me understand the seemingly great trials I was experiencing. He taught me the value of record keeping, and the responsibility that comes with many of the events in our lives. Perhaps it is to share beauty: causing it to multiply; or to give comfort and empathy, encouraging others to overcome. It is good to endure, but even greater to be there to help lift others through similar trials. These truths, provide the energy and drive to my painting.

Segullah: How do you find time and space to create art?

berg-grandmothers golden pearls
“Grandmother’s Golden Pearls”

Katrina: Just like all you lovely ladies, I have to make time for my passion. Presently, I consider myself a “dream painter”: painting as my babies sleep. Just as our family had to work together to keep small babies alive those first important months (and still do!) we are learning that everything we care about, whether it is work, play or learning, takes a great deal of cooperation and consideration for each other. We’re constantly trying to develop these attributes. These are vital for our happiness at home as well as my painting success. In the afternoon, my older children work independently on projects so that I can paint and the babies nap. After they all go to sleep I may have an hour or so to create, and often, my husband will come home from work and let me paint until I finally give in to dreamland. Trying to plan for everything, we designed our home with an art studio adjacent to our bedroom. A week after we moved in, we were overjoyed to discovered I was pregnant (following a long bout of secondary infertility). When we found out they were twin boys, we knew the studio would be the twins’ domain for a time. We had also designed space in the kitchen for a large dining table (10 x 4’) where we could eat, create and study together. Thank goodness it is big enough for me to have a small corner as my current studio. It may not be the clean and crisp room we’d all prefer, but it is the best of our choices at present. 😉

kat13.800Segullah: What do you find empowering about being an artist?

Katrina: More than anything I love the freedom that comes with creating something new…especially when it looks so different than the real thing. Whether it is the small details or the simplicity of a cheery color that brightens the room, it is the freedom to create whatever is within my soul that brings me the most joy.

Segullah: How do you encourage creativity in others?

“Coral Cache II”

Katrina: I’ve always felt very strongly about two things: 1. We as women need each other, and 2. We were meant to create. Long before instagram, I wrote a blog post about how creativity is a choice and 16 ways that we create as women each day. Within the 16 were creating friendship, joy, laughter, beauty, faith, love and miracles. There are so many more: we can create a house of order, a house of knowledge, a place of peace… Segullah has always welcomed and encouraged the divine beauty and constant growth of women. May we continue to develop new ways to create, reminding ourselves and the beautiful women in our lives that being creative is not just a gift (or a talent)…but it is in fact a choice!

Welcome Featured Artist Katrina Berg

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“Mintcoral Meringue”

I’m always excited when it’s time to introduce a new featured artist at Segullah, and I’m particularly excited this month to introduce you all to Katrina Berg, whose personality is just as lovely and bright as her palette. If you’re not following her on Instagram (@katrina.berg), you should be– she mixes posts of her paintings with pictures of her children and of her light-filled mountain home.

Here’s what she has to say about herself:
After spending summers studying French in Paris, and later Architecture in Torino, Italy, I found I simply could not leave my paints alone. I paint primarily in oil on wood boards. I love the constant strength of wood, how the paint glides and builds layer upon layer on the hard surface. Completing a piece while the oil is still wet is exciting and my preferred method. Though, with twin toddlers and three other small children at home, I’m ever learning new ways to create within the small increments of time allowed. Currently, we are homeschooling our four sons and daughter in Midway, Utah. (I know, embrace the craziness right?!) It has been a challenge of course, yet ever-rewarding. My husband and I met in a UNLV design class after I graduated from BYU. Working, learning, and creating as a family has been an incredible journey.

Artist Statement:
A bite or taste is much like a memory: frozen in time and cataloged with those things we hold most dear.

“Leaving Cache I”

Drawn to record the emotions and nostalgia associated with favorite places and things, I use a palette that includes a good dose of warmth & pastels. They help portray how I personally see the moment…my own version of rose colored glasses per se. These colors are often separated by bold strokes of gray or red, much like the veins in stained glass. Each small piece represents how every one of us has an integral part to play in this life experience. Formally trained as a landscape architect, I love to bring the “outside in” via landscapes or painting wallpaper, textiles and patterns with natural elements into the background of still life pieces and interior scenes.

We will feature an interview with Katrina in the coming weeks, with many more images of her art, so stay tuned!

Instagram: @katrina.berg


Skipping Christmas

IMG_0219I think it was last March when my husband came in from shoveling snow (once again), shed his heavy parka, and said, “I think we should go on vacation for Christmas this year.” While he probably had visions of sitting by the pool with a tropical drink in his hand, my mind immediately went to “The Spreadsheet,” as in, the document that rules my life in November in December, the one in which I keep track of what needs to be bought, wrapped, shipped and crossed off my list. The Spreadsheet gives me the kind of nightmares I used to have in college, when finals week always brought a heart-stopping dream involving a math class I didn’t know I was signed up for.

“Can we go instead of buying presents?” I asked. I had visions of a December where I wouldn’t be running from Costco to Bath and Body works, and the UPS man wouldn’t need a dolly to get to my front door. Obviously, gifts are not my love language. I didn’t want to skip the Jesus part of Christmas, just the ribbons and wrappings, the tinsel and trappings.

Of course, our families are not going with us on this trip, so there are still parents and siblings to buy for. There’s still the cousin gift exchange, and the cousins on the other side, and the courtesy cousins, and therefore still the need for a spreadsheet.

I just got back from Target with half a dozen white elephant gifts for parties we’re attending this weekend, because opting out on the social events makes me feel like a Scrooge. Continue reading Skipping Christmas

On (not) writing

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“Looking for Light” by Caitlin Connolly

If you spend time on social media, you probably know all about the November memes. First, there’s the gratitude challenge, which I don’t participate in but find lovely, because I think it’s really meaningful for people who chose to name the things they’re thankful for during the month. Then there’s Movember, which I also don’t participate in, because I’m unable to grow facial hair. While the sentiment behind it (promoting men’s health) is also lovely, I’m always a little glad when December comes along and all the men I know shave their squirrelly little beards and wispy mustaches. And then there’s the one that turns my veins to ice: NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing month, aka the month in which I feel intense guilt.

In theory, I should love NaNoWriMo. Back when I was in grad school, I wrote two novels (which are both stored on a flash drive in a drawer in my desk and have never seen the light of day since). I’m even working on a novel right now (who isn’t?). And if I do say so myself, it’s a pretty great idea– just the kind of book I want to read– a complicated family drama with a central event that’s close to my heart.

But actually sitting down and writing it? I’m not so good at that part. Continue reading On (not) writing

Practicing Religion

Picture by Ryan McGuire
One thing Sandra and I have in common is that both of our lives have been touched by foster care and adoption. I think it’s hard to be involved with adoption and the foster program without it changing how you feel about how families are created and what it means to be a family. Here are some of our thoughts in response to the news today:


I got frustrated by counsel given to the girls at camp this year: well-intended guidance for the future, that made them passive in their own futures (waiting for someone to take them to the temple and other things that have now exited my memory). I was already limping; my knee was sprained, but I went to camp anyway (I said I would so did) on crutches. We camp in the mountains nestled among granite boulders and elevation change, getting around was not easy. I couldn’t lead my girls or join them for all their activities. Unable to hike down rock cliff over -looking the lake for to the stargaze, I sat outside the lodge to see what I could from where I was. And sobbed.

How could the heavens be so big and at the same time someone could make it seem like they were any smaller, our possibilities less? God and Heaven are greater than anyone can see. How do I reconcile my faith and the words from leaders that I struggle with? I didn’t get answer, but a confirmation, that yes, they were much bigger, wrapping beyond the mountain skyline and deeper than surface of stars I saw. I wiped my tears on my sweater sleeve and then greeted my fourth level girls as they came up the hillside. Together we headed back to the cabins, they walked easily along as I hobbled. Continue reading Practicing Religion