Leslie Berns is intrigued with exploring the transformation of images, ideas and forms in space and time. Her projects spring from single materials: white cotton household linens, antique metal tubs, folded paper dixie cups, wood leveling sticks (Life is Folding and Unfolding, Threshold, Quilting the Waterway, Bookmarks for a Mixed Race Narrative: Who Could and Couldn’t Marry Whom). The work develops from two-dimensional works on paper and wall pieces to three-dimensional objects, performed in outdoor site-specific installations or as moving image narratives.
Born in Buffalo, New York, raised there and in southern California, Ms. Berns earned an MFA in painting from the Yale School of Art and Architecture and a BFA, also in painting, from Pratt Institute. 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, her video performance, Grounding, was screened at the Hirshhorn Museum and the Phillips Collection. In Heidelberg, Germany, where she lived for five and a half years, the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut presented Threshold, a collaboratively choreographed, outdoor performance installation situated among the ruins of the Heidelberg Castle Garden.
During the pandemic (summer 2020), she participated in The Earth Of, an “online experiment with language and form for writers and artists”, a virtual residency with Arts, Letters and Numbers, Averill Park, New York. Three of her pieces are published in The Earth Of anthology of works by participants from around the United States.
A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art at the University of Maryland until recently, Berns also previously 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). She divides her time between University Park, MD and Hudson, NY.