Artist to Share Expansion of ‘Permeable Borders’ Artwork
During several years as artist-in-residence at Mary Baldwin College, Claudia Bernardi has shared stories of hope, healing, and reconciliation through community artwork in villages in her native Argentina, as well as El Salvador, Guatemela, and Colombia.
Next week, Bernardi will return to campus to transport her audience to the dynamic sites of her most recent community murals in nearby Waynesboro and in Monthey, Switzerland. The free public talk will be held at 7 p.m. on September 12 in Francis Auditorium.
Bernardi’s summer undertakings built on the concept of "permeable borders," an idea that was born while she worked on a mural in West Belfast in 2011 and now links projects on several continents.
"‘Permeable borders’ brings images from one mural to the next, creating a connection, a possible link between people and places that have never met before," Bernardi said. "The walls are no longer the beginning or the end of the mural."
The 80-foot, multifaceted painting in Waynesboro was led by Mary Baldwin students in Bernardi’s May Term 2012 course. Linking the Mary Baldwin community, nearby residents, local schoolchildren, and three teachers from Bernardi’s Walls of Hope art school in Perquin, El Salvador, the project brought to life lessons in art, human rights, education, and political awareness.
"Our students worked successfully on a project that challenged not only their understanding of basic art techniques, but also their ability to work collaboratively," said Marlena Hobson, associate professor of art and contributor to the Waynesboro artwork.
Just weeks after finishing that mural, Bernardi and the Walls of Hope instructors traveled to a village in southwest Switzerland to facilitate a project with the aid of Amnesty International. Designed to highlight the experience of immigrants, the Monthey mural brought together 86 participants from 23 countries. Iraqi and Kurdish children painted next to a Cuban mother and daughter, and a man from Senegal shared brushes with women from France and Germany.
"We painted together, ate together, shared personal and communal stories, wiped tears, and also laughed together — often, and a lot," Bernardi said of the experience in Switzerland.
The artist-in-residence will visit several classes and begin planning her May Term 2013 project while on campus before returning to Switzerland to direct a social work seminar. Bernardi’s plans for the year include work in Argentina, Mexico, Bosnia, Serbia, and El Salvador.