Lili Bernard has startled the Downtown L.A. art scene with her latest artwork “As American as Cherry Pie” currently featured in the seminal exhibition RISE: LOVE, REVOLUTION AND THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY at Art Share L.A. She is a Cuban-born, Los Angeles-based visual artist, actor, and mother of six children. On her website she describes her work as “[The] exploration of the diasporic stain of racism, born of colonialism, and of the unconquerable nature of the human spirit.” Her fiery charisma and outspokenness are channeled into a piece that gives a voice to the unsung heroes of the civil rights movement, martyred slaves.
Erika Bijeljic: What’s next for Lili Bernard?
Lili Bernard: I’ve been working my behind off for my MFA thesis exhibition which is coming up in a few weeks.
E: Do you want people to react in a specific way to your work?
L: My hope is that my work will cause people to think and reflect. With regard to the specific piece I made for this show; I would want people to look at it with an understanding that, regardless of whether or not we are burdened with an environment of malice, we ultimately have the choice to reject hatred and put on love. That is why I made the child in this installation unblemished by the cherry syrup which represents the stain of racism, suggesting that she will grow up to reject the evil ways of her parents and community. I also want the work to remind people that though we forgive, which frees us, we don’t forget, which empowers us.
E: Where do you get inspiration from?
L: There are five places from which I receive inspiration. They are God, my six children, my parents, the ancestors and my life experiences. As an Afro-Cuban immigrant child, growing up in white collar, highly educated Princeton Junction, New Jersey; I was regularly racially taunted and called “nigger” by some relentless school yard bullies. It went on through high school. I was once even physically assaulted by four teenage “friends” who didn’t recognize that the Black person they were attacking from behind was me. These incidences and the racism which my children and husband experience, coupled with the blatant white male dominance that I experience in art academia, inform my work.