Spirited Woman, Sep 2008

SPIRITED WOMAN: Lili Bernard’s Art is a Natural Extension of her Soul

by Naila Francis, September 2, 2008


It would be easy to introduce this phenomenally talented woman as an artist, but to do so also in some ways seems a bit careless, dismissive even, relegating her to a confining role when her vocation in fact encompasses a vibrant and profoundly generous form of self-expression that spans creativity and culture, history and geography, spirituality and social activism. And yet still, drawing upon this bounty of inspiration may be only scratching the surface.

For to me, what Bernard, a Los Angeles-based fine artist, brings to her craft is an overwhelmingly keen sense of being alive in the world, her intense, riotous colors tumbling onto her canvas like some plangent heartsong proclaiming her joy to the beholder. A native of Cuba who has also lived in Spain, New York, Tokyo and Saudi Arabia among other neighboring and far-flung locales, she has been many things in her life. Although she exhibited a natural talent for drawing as a child, she would also take an interest in acting, eventually nurturing a career, appearing in several off-Broadway productions and TV series like “The Cosby Show” and “Seinfeld” before marriage and motherhood would nudge her focus more exclusively to art.

Yet her many paintings embrace all that has come before. Ever passionate about family, she infuses some of her portraits with a palpable reverence and tenderness, while a sense of drama, an irrepressible remnant of her acting days, seeps into other works such as “Goethe’s Der Erlkönig,” which pays whimsically eloquent tribute to German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s  dark poem about a boy on horseback dying at the mercy of some supernatural being. Bernard’s inexhaustible fascination with the countries from which her family hails (Jamaican, Spanish, Chinese and British roots augment her Cuban ancestry) shows up in landscape paintings rife with vivid tones and luminous detail, while her continual homage to her ancestry plays out in striking, imaginative renderings of tribal Africans. But whatever the jeweled surface, just beneath, personalities beckon, emotions ripple and a cosmic consciousness permeates, Bernard’s potent connection to the spirit world as much a part of her palette as the shades with which she paints.

“I don’t think much when I paint. Everything just comes out of me, just happens,” says the prolific artist. And it is this yielding openness, the allowing of life in all its great beauty and great tragedy, that also suffuses her work with a sense of wonder and revelation.

As the founder of HABLA! Harvesting Asian, Black and Latino Artists, Bernard also is committed to ensuring that the voices of other marginalized artists are heard, serving as a youth mentorship and other programs.

So who is Lili Bernard? Browse  LiliBernard.com where she has shared deeply of herself through more than just her paintings, visit her studio if you happen to live in the Los Angeles area and check out this clip by our very own Nancy Mills who recently spent some time with Bernard, affirming what we already know: She’s a Spirited Woman supreme!

Scroll down to read the article as it appears online or click here to read the article in the Spirited Woman website.

Lili Bernard in Spirited Woman
Lili Bernard in Spirited Woman