Internationally acclaimed artist and human rights activist Claudia Bernardi discussed her life and a documentary about her journey to the site of an El Salvadorian massacre,Artist of Resistance, at Mary Baldwin University in September as part of the college’s Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Doenges Visiting Artist/Scholar Series.
Bernardi is back at Mary Baldwin for the second piece of her Doenges residency, leading a May Term course. Like she has done in villages decimated by civil war in El Salvador and other parts of the world, Bernardi is guiding Mary Baldwin students through the creation of a community mural — emerging on the side wall of the Newtown Baking in downtown Staunton. Much like the documentation of her previous efforts, students in an Mary Baldwin film studies course — recently added as a new minor at the college — are recording the process in living color.
The class will hold an official “opening” and unveiling, complete with refreshments, May 15 at 12 p.m.
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Bernardi left her native Argentina in 1979. When she returned five years later, close to 30,000 citizens had “disappeared” as a result of the country’s “dirty war.” She was a member of an Argentine forensic anthropology team charged with documenting mass burial sites and testimonies of families of those who “disappeared” because of alleged subversion of the government.
In the early 1990s Bernardi again joined the forensics team in its investigations of human rights violations in El Salvador and Guatemala. Bernardi has done her best to translate that emotion into works of art and reconstruction of spirit. Her experiences exhuming bodies, documenting burial sites, and championing social justice and human rights in Central and South America and Africa invariably inform her art. Bernardi’s paintings, prints, installations, and sculptures are internationally known.