June 26, 2014
Location:North Berwick, Maine
Kim Bernard’s sculptures and installations are shown in exhibits including: the Portland Museum of Art, Currier Museum of Art, Fuller Craft Museum, Colby College Museum of Art, Art Complex Museum, Saco Museum and UNH Museum of Art. Reviewed in the Boston Globe, Art News, and 100 Artists of New England, Bernard recently received the 2011 Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant. She received her BFA from Parsons in 1987, her MFA from Mass Art in 2010 and currently teaches at the Maine College of Art and Plymouth State University. Bernard offers workshops nationally as a visiting artist but makes her home and work in Maine.
Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
What made you want to participate in this project?
I was intrigued by the mystery and possibilities of the project. Knowing that my contribution would be a link in the chain and that I would only be informed by the link that preceded me, like a grand Exquisite Corpse, was both challenging and inviting. I knew this project would ask that I work in an unfamiliar way and that I would need to get out of my comfort zone to generate ideas. I also liked the ego-less-ness of the project, not knowing who I’d be working with, where the work would be exhibited and what would come of the body of work was humbling.
What was your first reaction to the film? (thoughts, emotions, memories, tastes, smells etc?)
There’s a dreamy quality to the film, a mesh of parts and pieces that are unclear which allowed me to make up my own narrative. There’s certainly mystery. I was left with many questions. The overall emotion is serenity, it’s sensual, contemplative and reflective.
If you had to choose one word to sum up the film what would it be?
What emotion did the film elicit?
What was the film about in your mind? (Did it tell a story? Evoke a memory Etc.)
A woman decides to take a Sunday morning walk in a park on the outskirts of an unfamiliar French city. She sees, hears and touches fully because everything’s new, fresh and unfamiliar. An adolescent girl from the neighborhood, who has an imaginative, almost tricksterish nature, amuses herself by “playing” with the woman, performing for her, ducking in and out of sight. The woman catches on and agrees to play along.
Take me through each step of your process from getting the film to the creation of your sculpture.
I wanted to use images from the film, but break them up into a mosaic or puzzle that the viewer would have to figure out and unravel, much in the way I had to figure out what was going on in the film. There’s a tactile quality to the film (the woman with her hand in the dribbling water) that I wanted to carry into the sculpture as well. Creating a photo mosaic that could manipulated seemed like a suitable 3 dimensional interpretation of the film.
What did you title your work and why?
The interaction between the woman and the girl is coy, private and mutually playful. Tete-a-Tete seemed to describe their conversation even though no words were exchanged. The fact that it’s a French phrase addressed the European flavor of the film. In the sculpture, the tete-a-tete, the conversation, is between you and the puzzle pieces.
What part of the sculpture came to you first? (what did you imagine you wanted to create?)
The form came first, the mosaic of imagery came next. I wanted to create a manipulative puzzle that the viewer had to unscramble.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different?
My work is abstract, never figurative and never narrative. It always involves movement which sometimes means it involves physics. Or mark making as a record of movement. I frequently start with a question or a curiosity I want to explore. This prompts me to build it to see if the idea in my head is anything like what it would look like in a physical state.
This experience was different in that the impetus did not start from a question or curiosity of mine. The genesis was of another artists interpretation of another artists interpretation. It was far more collaborative than I typically work. There was also a freedom in creating, that it was a one off. I felt that there was no wrong way of doing this.
What techniques/tools did you use to help you express you’re interpretation?
In my woodshop I used a table saw, drill and power sander. I altered the imagery from the film in Photoshop, had it printed in an architectural laser printer and applied the prints with a polymer gel medium, then applied color with acrylic paints.
Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know?
The observer might not know that I struggled to do a transfer process with the images that was a disaster. The mix of latex and acrylic paint beneath the polymer gel created a chemical mix that was incompatible. I wasted a week applying layers that eventually had to be removed. The decision to apply the laser prints directly was out of failure to successfully transfer.
Extra credit: Did you enjoy this project? More you want to say about your experience?
Yes, then no, then yes. I initially loved the idea of the project, then got busy with some demanding deadlines which made me put the project on the back burner, but also gave me time to process my ideas. When I was trying to figure out the transfer process I was totally frustrated. Then when I had success with the polymer gel application and started to see the sculpture come together, I was back to enjoying it again.