Meet The Maker
Hi! My name is Kari Bergen and I am the maker / collector behind Ephemera Obscura. I have a lot of new followers and since I’ve been avoiding it for more than long enough (forever) I thought I would finally introduce myself to all my IG followers. The short and sweet is that I am an intuitive assemblage artist, active dreamer and collector / seller of found vintage and antique Ephemera and oddities. I love salvaging, repurposing, altering felt and found antique and vintage ephemera and objects, weaving symbolic components into new stories, imbuing them with new life and meaning, and finding homes for unusual and historical ephemera from the past. I live in Denver with my history teaching husband @BergenHistory and two cats Josephine and Dilly. I love plants and animals, Bowie, hiking, collecting weird old stuff, history, mythology, books, everything metaphysical, ghosts, exploring the unknown, deep conversation, travel, the Victorian Era, cult & horror movies and pitch black humor.
This part is lengthy and more personal but If you want to know a little more about my life and don’t mind me being a bit random, vulnerable and honest, read on. . .
I was born in the suburbs of Chicago. Even as a child I was an empathic loner who loved nature, magic, history and escaping into my imagination. I wanted to be a writer before I had even learned to read, although I think I referred to it as Storytelling. I grew up in a haunted house with a haunted family. It was common in my childhood home for me to see shadows, hear disembodied voices, have doors open/ close, tv and lights turn on/ off, objects appear/ disappear/ move on their own, etc. I undeniably saw and heard from many of my friends and family on the other side. It left me with so many questions like, “am I crazy or what?”. After my best friend died in 2003, I felt so compelled to find answers that I made a decision to “Follow the ghosts” and dove deeply into paranormal investigation and “ghost hunting”. Although my reasons and methods have changed over the years, I’ve never stopped. I’ve travelled to communicate with spirits and capture evidence of the afterlife in private homes, hospitals, prisons, asylums, cemeteries, theaters, woods and other historic sites around the US. It’s had a profound impact on my life and art over the years.
I was life threateningly ill more than a few times when I was a child. Most seriously when I was 15 and I nearly died from Ovarian Cancer. I had an Immature Teratoma tumor (containing hair, teeth and some bone, possibly from an undeveloped twin) the size of a volleyball removed. I underwent complete hysterectomy and 7 months of heavy chemotherapy. It changed me as a person and I began to live my own life instead of trying to please others. I decided to follow what made me feel alive. I have been Cancer free for 20 years this October! But I still deal with a number of chronic health issues that impact me mentally and physically on a daily basis. #Spoonie I also live with a severe food allergy to casein (dairy) that forces me to eat only food I cook at home and make most things from scratch because processed food poses a risk with shared equipment and undeclared milk.
Growing up, I lived my best life every summer at the Bristol Renaissance Faire where the people were more than family to me and I was free to run amok with my imagination. I was Blotchy Pusblotch the youngest of a troupe of deranged gravediggers, I was Silence a naughty Puritan girl who was always disobeying her Uncles Silas and Brimstone, I was Grungetta a story-telling, bug eating orphan who was as charming as she was strange. I was stage weasel to a raunchy Magician Mime and for over a decade, I had the pleasure of being myself, Kari, the Witch running Orphan Moon Occult Bookes for over a decade. It gave me a place to quench my insatiable thirst for spiritual knowledge and experience myself as a channel for helping others find the knowledge they needed. I was compelled to follow my curiosity and spent many summers in deep personal study on whatever called my attention.
I’ve been collecting, saving and researching odd little bits of found Ephemera and smalls for as long as I can remember and have always been deeply interested in everyone’s family photos and papers. One day in 2010 while contemplating how to share my collection, the words Ephemera Obscura popped into my head and wouldn’t leave me alone. That was when I decided I would share my passion for ephemera by opening a shop on Etsy. There was so much more interest than I thought there would be and it became my full time business. I let myself be swept away in a journey of “following the Ephemera”. Nowadays I have the collection on my own website www.ephemeraobscura.com which used to be my biggest goal.
I had such small dreams then. I thought selling ephemera and hunting ghosts was the entire thing I wanted to be doing. But something was missing. I wasn’t using my creativity or imagination. Honestly, looking back I can’t exactly say why I was trying to move forward in my life without such an important and essential part of myself. Fear perhaps made me keep it safely locked in my heart. In 2016, a friend asked me to enter a Dark Art contest and I said yes, even though I did not think of myself as an artist. I made 3 pieces for it and felt something dormant within myself come alive! It felt terrifying at first because I didn’t know if I could do it, but I decided to “follow the art” and very quickly shifted my focus from just antiques and ephemera to creating art. In doing so I learned so much about myself, my process and my spirituality. What a fulfilling, healing and wild journey it has been the last few years filling whole booths with my art and ephemera, traveling to live shows, following my passions. A dream come true, I truly LOVE it! I can’t imagine my life without it!
But now, with things at a standstill for the last year, I “Turned myself to face me”, Bowie style. I found myself here in another turning point in the spiral, feeling again the sense that something about my dream was too small, something was missing. What was I trying to leave behind? I guess I thought I would leave out my spiritual self? That I could protectively keep that part of myself a secret. That can’t be the case moving forward. I must bring all aspects of myself to this journey. Open a window unto my heart and you would see a deep ocean of unspoken words waiting to spill from their inkstained bottles. I have to find a way to bring all of it together, to release my heartbound vision and channel my gifts towards my real purpose. Creating, dreaming, learning, journeying, healing and writing. I have some growing ideas but bigger dreams are scary. Am I ready? Able? Worthy? Do I know how to begin? Have I already begun? I don’t know all the answers, but that doesn’t matter to me anymore. I intend to “follow my heart” this time. Here's to spilling the ink.