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'Beauty and Terror' displays powerful and historic subject matter

Bernstein uses string and wax to create vivid works of art in Bankhead gallery
Artist Robin Bernstein stands in front of one of her art pieces for the "Beauty and Terror" collection.

A new gallery exhibition presented by Livermore Valley Arts is set to spotlight horrific and historical events of the Holocaust.

Featuring pieces from Bay Area artist Robin Bernstein, "Beauty and Terror" has been described by LVA officials as "a gripping, powerful exhibit," according to a press release ahead of the short-term display's run this month.

Bernstein, a St. Louis native, has worked in a variety of mediums for the past four decades. Through her work, she is known to break out of artistic medium norms by using such unique methods.

In her upcoming Livermore exhibition, she uses a technique known as fiber art, drawing inspiration from significant historical events and trauma from the Holocaust.

"Viewers of Bernstein's pieces can expect to be provoked, awakened, moved, and propelled," LVA representatives stated in the announcement.

According to LVA, Bernstein produces her work with strings that create "vivid compositions that seem to be paintings from a distance, but going deeper within each work, each piece symbolically represents lesser-known atrocities and massacres that occurred during the Holocaust."

The show's namesake refers to Bernstein forming beautiful artistic creations from painful and heinous acts committed against the Jewish community.

Bernstein has said one of her goals with "Beauty and Terror" was to honor the memory of those who suffered and were killed as a result of tyranny.

When looking closely at Bernstein's work for the exhibit, viewers can quickly see the violent subject matter. She discussed this duality in her artist statement.

"Each cut may represent the act of violence that was put to each victim of the Nazi Regime (be it by bullet, by gas, by fire, by starvation, by disease, and by other methods). Each cut may also be a reminder of the possibilities that were lost had over 11,000,000 Jews, people with disabilities, Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, a-socials, German political activists and LGBTQ not been targeted and murdered," Bernstein said.

"I believe it is my responsibility as an artist to do what I can to produce a world that discourages the worst of human nature," she continued.

Using an elaborate and uncommon approach, each of the 18 pieces in the gallery took Bernstein several months to make.

The works were crafted from thousands of strings, cut and covered in an adhesive mixture of wax, petroleum jelly and resin. Each string is then placed specifically to depict Bernstein's desired scene.

"It gives me a lot of satisfaction to be able to bring the history of the Holocaust to audiences who might not know about it otherwise. People truly have no idea how brutal and how horrible it was," she stated.

"The pieces are educational, but they're also standalone aesthetic visual experiences. They're memorials. They're honorific. They serve a lot," Bernstein added.

The exhibit will be on display at the UNCLE Credit Union Gallery in Livermore's Bankhead Theater from next Thursday (Jan. 12) through Jan. 29.

Interested citizens can catch Bernstein's art demonstration and talk on Jan. 14 from 1-3:30 p.m. Here she will discuss the true stories behind her art, as well as provide a live walkthrough of her creative process using string and wax.

The gallery and artist demonstration are both free for all members of the public.


About the Author: Nicole Gonzales

Nicole Gonzales is a staff reporter for Embarcadero Media’s East Bay Division, the Pleasanton Weekly. Nicole began writing for the publication in July 2022.
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