Leslie Berns engages experiential, environmental, and social themes in a research-based, interdisciplinary practice. Process-oriented ‘projects’ develop around a single material: white cotton household linens (Life is Folding and Unfolding), antique metal tubs (Threshold), folded paper dixie cups (Quilting the Waterway), wood shims, i.e., leveling sticks (Bookmarks for a Mixed Race Narrative: Who Could and Couldn’t Marry Whom). Pieces progress from two-dimensional wall works to three-dimensional objects, to performances that culminate in moving image narratives.
She has exhibited her work in Washington, D.C., Berlin, Boston and New York. As part of the Washington Project for the Arts Experimental Media Series (2011), her video performance, Grounding, a silent ritual drama, was selected for a screening at the Hirshhorn Museum. In Heidelberg, Germany, the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut presented Threshold, a collaboratively choreographed, outdoor performance installation situated among the ruins of Heidelberg's Castle Garden.
Most recently Leslie participated in an “online experiment with language and form” with writers and artists from around the United States in a virtual residency with Arts, Letters and Numbers, Averill Park, New York.
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art, Berns has taught courses in Art Theory, Two-Dimensional Design, and Foundation and Advanced Drawing and Painting since 2007. Previously she taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore), American University (Washington, D.C.), the University of Maryland University College (Heidelberg, Germany), and Parsons School of Design (New York).
Born in Buffalo, New York, raised there and in southern California, Berns earned an MFA in painting from the Yale School of Art and Architecture and a BFA, also in painting, from Pratt Institute.