The daughter of an Air Force officer, Susan Berg had lived in six states, Newfoundland and the Far East by the time she was sixteen. This lifestyle produced an insatiable love of travel, which now includes visits to nineteen countries. These experiences have significantly influenced her teaching and artistic careers.


Recently retired, Susan served Iowa State University, in Ames, for two decades as a member of the College of Design teaching faculty. She earned a Bachelor of Art degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City (1972) and a Master of Art from Iowa State, Ames, in 1978. As a university educator, Susan gave artistic guidance to the nearly 1300 students who entered her classroom. In 2004 she earned a College of Design award for extraordinary performance in teaching.

In addition to her career as an educator, Susan has also been a watercolorist for thirty years. Her current interest in Scandinavian harbor scenes is due, in large part, to her highly valued Norwegian heritage. A third generation Norwegian American, she can trace all her ancestors to Norway, where most of her great-grandfathers were fishermen along the southwestern coast. As an artist, Susan signs her work with "Vikra," a coastal farm name in southern Karmøy, home to many generations of ancestors.


Susan's realistic painting style reveals her intrigue with the challenge of producing water scenes in the aquatic medium. During her many visits to Scandinavia, she takes dozens of photographs of a single harbor and these images are carefully studied for future paintings. Her concerns are strong composition, desired lighting conditions and cast shadows, color, and the intricate and ever-changing water reflections. She uses gouache and transparent watercolor, either individually or combined. Occasionally, India ink is employed to achieve greater detail in centuries old structures, also a common thread in her paintings.

Although her current focus is Scandinavian harbors, Susan has used watercolor for a wide range of subject matter, including Venetian waterways, rural landscapes, figural studies, as well as interior watercolor portraits of important historic homes. Among these are the Iowa Governor's Mansion in Des Moines, Iowa (Terrace Hill), Salisbury House, also in Des Moines, and the 19th century Farmhouse on Iowa State's campus. Susan's graduate research and interior watercolor studies for a post Civil War Iowa farmhouse was featured in the1979 issue of "PALIMPSEST," Iowa's foremost history magazine, and one of her paintings was splashed across the cover of the issue.

Susan's future subject matter will include harbors at Haugesund, Bømlo, and Skudeneshavn, Norway; Icelandic harbors; and the harbors of Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic.


Susan's watercolors and limited edition prints can be found in numerous galleries, private and corporate collections, and over the years she has participated in many solo and group exhibitions throughout the Midwest and Michigan. Recently, The DAHL RAMMESERVICE & GALLERI in Haugesund, Norway has provided her the opportunity to sell her watercolors abroad. However, as the great-granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants, Susan considers her artistic relationship with immigrant museums to be her most distinguished honor and achievement. Her work can be found at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa, where she will conduct painting workshops in 2006, and the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elkorn, Iowa.


Although passionate about Scandinavia, Susan's Iowa roots have always been important as this state was the destination of her immigrant ancestors. In 1968, she was awarded the opportunity to serve Iowa as an ambassador, and in this capacity, she competed in the 1969 Miss America Scholarship Pageant and was selected Second Runner-Up.

Viking symbol is courtesy of Aaron T. Good, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.


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