"FIT" represents the power of female teachers. In the current climate of scientific doubt and shifting educational opportunities, we need strong teachers who inspire and motivate. Living in the Silicon Valley of high technology, but limited employment diversity, I am especially aware of the need to foster fearlessness in girls who thirst for scientific careers. When researching for "Ladies in Lab Coats", another of my artworks, I questioned a female neuroscientist about the field of epigenetics. She pondered for several minutes but could not think of even one woman in this important field. Girls and women are interested in leading scientific discovery. They are "FIT" but often made to feel unworthy at a young age. It is time to teach and reach them.
"Ladies in Lab Coats"
In honor of women, "Ladies in Lab Coats" recognizes the work of female scientists from around the world and throughout the centuries. Each flowing layer of the skirt celebrates the contributions of women who have discovered and invented improvements for health, environment, research, and forward thinking. They have made and continue to advance the quality of life for everyone.
"Terry", accomplished bassist and band director of an otherwise all-male jazz band during Chicago's roaring 1920s, was just Great Aunt Thelma to me. I couldn't be sure of the fascinating tales she croaked in old age of singing atop the piano or leading the "Play" boys on tours around the country... But, there was that trunk of sumptuous costumes she gave me when I was a girl. Now, the internet bears witness to her fame and sound. A lively memory in jazz history writing, photographs and recordings, Thelma "Terry" Combes was way ahead of others in breaking the boundaries of female leadership, but her life lived out as both an inspiration and a tragedy. She encountered so much pressure for sexual roles and disrespect for her musical talent that she fired all of her band members and ran away. She was never able to secure a job in music again.
As I photographed my foster mother on visits to Michigan over about 25 years, I often found her peering into a mirror. Sometimes she was in curlers. At others she was gazing from a halo of dripping wet hair. Usually, she was smoothing and counting wrinkles that were framed by specially-arranged tresses. We never talked about what she was thinking. I have always imagined that she was reflecting on her younger years and how that image was fading toward death, which was at age 100plus.
Her hands reflect my memory of a woman who was admired by many, the childless foster mother and female standard to more than 72 children.
For approximately 25 years I photographed the hands, arms and feet of my aging foster mother when I visited her in Michigan. Those taken near the end of her 100+ years especially ignite memories and have inspired three embroidered artworks. She was the guiding hand for more than 72 children as she farmed, cooked, and completed many heavy physical chores normally associated with men. Her model was one of a strong and caring female.
In the past fifteen years Bergstedt's fiber art has appeared in more than 100 exhibitions across the United States and international countries, receiving 27 awards. She has been invited to present lectures, workshops, webinars and videos at organizations including the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, Coastal Carolina University, Surface Design Association, Yuma Art Symposium, SOFA Chicago, and the Lausanne to Beijing 11th Fiberart Biennale. More than 40 publications include her works, among them the Netherlands' Textile Art Around the World by Ellen Bakker, a Through Our Hands Magazine interview by Linda Seward, United Kingdom, Artistry in Fiber: Sculpture by E. Ashley Rooney and Anne Lee, and World Affairs Pictorial - Art, China. She exhibited in the 10th From Lausanne to Beijing International Fiberart Biennale, from which she was selected as a "specially invited artist" for the first Chaozhou China International Embroidery Art Biennale. In 2019-2021 her artworks were included in the World Textile Art VIII Bienal, Madrid, "Scythia" in Ukraine, Festival of Quilts in England, (Judges Choice Award), the World Textile Art pre-biennial in Chile, TexpoART in Romania, and The 11th Lausanne to Beijing International Fiberart online Biennale. In 2021 she was an invited artist for "Lin LeCheng and His Friends", in Shanghai.