Kourtney Bartel grew up on a farm in Southern Manitoba, where her Russian Mennonite ancestors first settled in the 1870’s. Russian Mennonites, including Bartel’s ancestors, came to Canada due to the loss of privileges guaranteed by the Russian government, particularly in regards to military service and education. Much of Bartel’s artwork stems from her Mennonite background and her experience of growing up in the Canadian prairies. She is heavily influenced by documents and objects connected to her familial history, such as photographs, newspapers, hymnals, and journals. Working primarily through printmaking processes, Bartel alters these found documents and materials as she explores how the past impacts our own stories and understandings. As she continues to learn and ask questions, she becomes a carrier of memories that may have otherwise not been shared or forgotten.
Bartel received her BFA, with a minor in Art History, from NSCAD University in Halifax, NS.
My artistic practice is heavily influenced by my familial history and the variety of objects and documents connected to that history. I love digging through old chests and boxes pulled from the depths of family closets and I’ve come to realize that paper holds memory. It rips and stains and creases. It curls in on itself and yellows with age. Spending time with these found documents and materials creates a contemplative space where I can ask questions, be exposed to new information, and create a generational conversation.
I am primarily a printmaker, working with both non-traditional and traditional processes. The printmaking process forces me to slow down and spend intentional time with my materials. It also allows me to work in series and continually come back to an image with new iterations – acknowledging how information becomes lost and fragmented over time. By working primarily with paper, I’m able to reference my original materials as well as the dichotomous relationship paper holds of being both fragile and a safeguard of history and memory. I often work on a small scale with a neutral colour palette, attempting to create an intimate space where the viewer is able to have their own personal experience with the work.