Cindy Bernard’s career spans three decades. Her widely exhibited series Ask the Dust (1988-92), explored the relationship between cinema, memory and landscape and is in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (21 part set), LACMA, the Pompidou, MOMA and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is a recipient of grants and fellowships from the California Arts Council, Creative Capital, Anonymous Was a Woman, the Harpo Foundation, California Community Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Japan, and was included in the Whitney and Lyon Biennials.
In addition to her visual practice, Bernard takes an active interest in the spaces and production of social exchange. She was a director and advisor to Foundation for Art Resources from 1985 to 1990, a founding director of the Coalition for Freedom of Expression, and co-founder of MOCA Mobilization. Bernard is also the founder and director of The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS), an organization she began in response to the need for a flexible and sustainable association dedicated to experimental music in Los Angeles. She has curated and produced more than 50 concerts for SASSAS including Welcome Inn Time Machine for Pacific Standard Time in 2012.
Her interest in sound has spurred several projects including a series of photographs of municipal band shells which Bernard sees as an architecture of public exchange and The Inquisitive Musician, an adaptation of a 17th century German satire, Musicus Curiosus, or Battalus, the Inquisitive Musician; the Struggle for Precedence between the Kunst Pfeifer and the Common Players. The Inquisitive Musician pits itinerant “beer fiddlers” against the city sanctioned “Kunstpfeifer” in an argument over who has the right to perform and be compensated. Presented as a staged reading incorporating video and live music, The Inquisitive Musician has been performed in New York, in Los Angeles at the LA County Museum of Art, and most recently at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in June 2013.
Current projects include Vinland, a meditation on the complex and continually shifting relationships between social and economic structures, personal and collective histories and conditions of migration and place. Drawn from trips to Newfoundland and accounts of family links to the area, this ongoing project incorporates photographs, video, newsprint derived from Newfoundland lumber, a television pilot script and, most recently, painting.
Bernard was an Adjunct Professor of Graduate Fine Art at Art Center College of Art and Design for 20 years and was appointed the inaugural Ruffin Distinguished Artist-In-Residence at the University of Virginia for the academic year 2013/2014. She was a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow at the MacDowell Colony and was in residence at the UCross Foundation in 2017.
A solo exhibition of watercolors from Vinland paired with the Los Angeles debut of the full 100 part Security Envelope Grid was exhibited at Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles in 2017. The Security Envelope Grid was acquired by the Whitney Museum in 2019. She is a 2020 recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant.