About the Photographer
Over twenty-five years, Los Angeles-based artist Cindy Bernard has used photography, sound, 3-D computer modeling, and public installations to address how our perception of reality is coded by culture. In the process, her work has dealt with subjects such as the relationship between cinema, landscape, and memory; the dynamic between figuration and abstraction; and social exchanges between people in the context of musical performances.
In the 1980s Bernard became interested in functional design objects that stylistically reference familiar modes of abstract painting, such as security envelopes and fabric, and she completed a number of photographic series that scrutinize how these materials employ a mass-produced version of the artistic gesture. For the fabric pictures, such as Untitled (Dress) (1986), Bernard took close-up photographs of the patterns in black and white and printed them uniformly in a small size. These works explicitly resemble expressive abstract compositions but they also elicit a mild sense of confusion, since it is hard to determine if the image is a photograph, a charcoal drawing, or a photograph of a painting. "I am intimating that there is a certain degree of calculation behind any gesture," Bernard stated in 1988, "and that the degree of meaning attached to the artist's hand is overemphasized in terms of its emotional significance… I choose fabrics for qualities that evoke a response because we have been trained to equate gesture with a type of feeling or mood. I want the viewer to think about the assumptions underlying those tendencies."
Born and raised in San Pedro, California, Bernard earned a BA at California State University, Long Beach (1981) and an MFA at California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia (1985). She has taught at Art Center College of Art and Design in Pasadena, California and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Bernard is also a devoted arts activist and has been involved with organizations like the Foundation for Art Resources and the Coalition for Freedom of Expression. In 2002 she founded the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS).