[Chicago Crossings: Bridges and Boundaries, reel 8; Gerda M. Bernstein]

Artist Gerda Meyer-Bernstein and her assistant, Ben, are interviewed by a Kartemquin Films crew. Gerda takes the crew on a tour of her studio, highlighting two of her completed works.

0:31Copy video clip URL Continuing her interview with the Kartemquin film crew, Meyer-Bernstein tells a story about how she gathered 600 suitcases from Salvation Armies throughout Chicago for one of her pieces.

1:36Copy video clip URL Meyer-Bernstein begins to talk about a self-portrait piece made from old paint tubes before she is interrupted by the sound of breaking glass. “There’s a certain amount of pressure, I guess, pressing on the glass below, and it’s like a symphony and it pops and I find it terribly exciting,” she explains, effervescently.

4:10Copy video clip URL The crew begins to talk with Ben, Meyer-Bernstein’s assistant, who begins the conversation by revealing that, after working in her husband’s shoe factory for 32 years, he has been working by Gerda’s side for over 15 years. Ben goes on to talk about he and Gerda’s exploits through the years and his favorite new project, a piece involving mannequin “surgery.”

7:30Copy video clip URL Meyer-Bernstein continues to talk about the process of collecting glass from various businesses throughout Chicago.

9:03Copy video clip URL Meyer-Bernstein begins to talk about her emotional involvement with her work, explaining how anger towards political issues is one of her chief inspirations. To help illustrate this, Gerda tells a story of how President George H.W. Bush’s abstinence-only sexual education programs and literature reminded her of Nazi Germany and inspired a piece centered around book burning. “They first banned books, then they burned books, then they burned people.” Continuing to cite political issues and the pieces they inspired, Meyer-Bernstein maintains: “It’s my way of taking political action.”

11:53Copy video clip URL The Kartemquin crew begins a tour of Gerda’s studio while she stops and explains a number of finished pieces, starting with the burnt books piece.

16:50Copy video clip URL Meyer-Bernstein walks the crew through a piece entitled The Hooded March, an exposé of the Ku Klux Klan’s killings over an eleven-year period.

21:02Copy video clip URL Tape end.

 

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