BFA student has high hopes for fourth year

Alexa Bjerkness talks inspiration, confidence, and goals for her final year

Grace Chen

The final year of university can be daunting for students, but for Alexa Bjerkness, it’s a time of hopefulness.

Fourth-year Fine Arts student (BFA ’20), Bjerkness talked about her first experiences with art, her current inspirations, and her hopes for the new school year.

Bjerkness is a Kingston local. Growing up here in the Limestone City, she found inspiration for her artwork from the environment around her.

“It’s so nice to go out on nature walks and hikes. Seeing little things like mushrooms and fungi especially are so cool,” said Bjerkness.

Drawing from the natural elements of her surroundings, Bjerkness first started experimenting with art when she was a little girl. She says she was 11 years old, sitting in her living room, when her little sister got a brand-new toy rocking horse.

Watching her sister play with her new toy, she started sketching.

It was her grandma who gave Bjerkness her first compliment on her artwork. Feeling affirmed, the artist continued to work on them.

Ever since then, Bjerkness has drawn inspiration from the world around her.

“I want to paint a pretty picture and have something nice to look at, but I actually want people to spend time looking at it and not think[ing], ‘Oh, that’s just another painting,’ she said. “I want them to see the intricacies in them.”

Bjerkness thinks her fourth year is the perfect time to focus on improving her technique in painting more intricate subjects and details within large-scale paintings.

Currently, she’s working on larger pieces than usual, though they’re still grounded in her signature natural imagery.

“If I were to describe it, it would be on the more realistic side of things. There are a lot of landscapes, earthy colours, and natural colours,” said Bjerkness.

While she draws inspiration from all things in nature, she’s especially enthusiastic about her work focusing on her horses.

Bjerkness’ horses are a major source of her happiness and inspiration. They even factored into her decision to come to Queen’s to study fine arts.

“I kind of threw all my eggs in one basket and went to Queen’s because I live here, and because I didn’t want to be far away from my horses. I love being a Kingstonian,” she explained.

After being at the University for three years, Bjerkness hopes to spend her final year focusing on refining her skills, preparing to enter the working world, and focusing on the themes that matter most to her.

When people view her work, Bjerkness hopes that her concern for the earth shines through and encourages a sense of urgency around environmental awareness.

“One of my pieces was of power lines going through this beautiful landscape and they’re obstructing the view. This draws the attention to the little things humans put out there, like the expansion of housing and concrete cities, so there are a lot of green spaces in my work.”

Now at the start of her fourth year, Bjerkness looks back on her time at Queen’s and the changes she’s made in her personal life.

Moving forward, her goal is to push herself and face new challenges. With that in mind, Bjerkness hopes to create a website to promote her artwork.

“I’ve learned to really take charge of my own wellbeing and experiences. I’ve learned to not be afraid to fight for who I am and [to] be confident in who I am,” she said. 

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