An exhibition of works by internationally acclaimed artist and human rights activist Claudia Bernardi will be on view at Mary Baldwin University’s Hunt Gallery from August 30–September 24.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1955, Bernardi experienced first-hand the fear and trauma of living in Argentina during the first three years of the “Dirty War,” the seven-year reign by a military junta that inflicted cruelty, injustice, and murder upon its own citizens. Bernardi is a professor at the California College of the Arts. She has also taught at the Universidad del Salvador, Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, Mills College, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Bernardi is in her fourth year as artist-in-residence at Mary Baldwin. During the 2006-07 academic year, she was Mary Baldwin’s Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Doenges Artist/Scholar. Since then, she has led Mary Baldwin University students on two trips to El Salvador where they have participated in the activities of the School of Art and Open Studio of Perquin, which Bernardi founded and directs.
Bernardi has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally at a variety of venues, including: The International World Peace Center in Hiroshima; The Centre for Building Peace, Donegal, Northern Ireland; DAH Teatar in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro; The University of Haifa, Israel; the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery; Center for Latin American Studies at UC Berkeley; Thatcher Gallery at University of San Francisco; Artist’s Forum; Palo Alto Art Center; Tucson Art Museum; and, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. She was the subject of a 2000 documentary film directed by Penelope Price, Pasa un Angel/An Angel Passes, which was screened at New York’s Margaret Mead Film Festival and at the San Francisco International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Spire Award for Best Art Film. In 2004, Penelope Price created another documentary about the life and art of Bernardi entitled Artist of Resistance, which toured a number of national and international film festivals.
Regarding her art, Bernardi says the following: “[f]or the last fifteen years I have collaborated with the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team in investigations of violations of Human Rights. The task of AFAT is to perform exhumations of mass graves, investigating crimes against civilian population. I participated in exhumations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Argentina, and Ethiopia. My artwork is profoundly influenced by these experiences — not only in the narrative aspect of each piece but, most importantly, in the conceptual realm of finding images through the searching of layers of colored dust. I scratch the surface of the piece, identifying human figures that interact with the world of the hidden images. The pigments convey the essential material prima. The intensity and the fugitive condition of pigments, so fragile yet persistent, are metaphors of the elusiveness of life and the never-ending determination of hope.”
A reception will be held for the artist on Monday, August 30, from 4:30-6 p.m. in Hunt Gallery. The public is invited to attend. Hunt Gallery is dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary work in all media by regionally and nationally recognized artists. The Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the college’s academic year. The Gallery website can be found at: go.marybaldwin.edu/arts/huntgallery.php