Mary grace Bernard
denver, colorado / New Orleans, louisiana
Performance art at its core is unabashed and transformative; some subjects are easier shown than discussed. Mary Grace Bernard is tackling the stigma of living with chronic illness and disability in her emphatically candid performances. Bernard received her Bachelor of Art from New Orleans University in International Studies & French in 2014 and went on to receive two Master of Arts degrees one from New York University in French Studies and one from the University of Denver in Art History. Bernard’s scholastic background aids her process in creating highly conceptual and meaningful work; and has shown at notable institutions such as the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans and The Temple Contemporary Artist Haven in Denver.
“Contrary to the social perceptions and expectations assigned to my outward appearance, I have invisible disability. I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of six when my younger brother died of the same illness. The amount of time spent on self-care and dependent-care just to move my body and mind is upwards of five hours a day. Occasionally, the time spent increases to twenty-four hours a day when I have to be hospitalized, which can be upwards of two weeks at a time. My lived body experiences led me to combine disability studies with art theoretical and critical practices, and those experiences help nurture my argument that performance art is a powerful medium for artists who identify as disabled. Performance and writing are two modes of practice available to disabled artists to share insight in their own words and to make the public witness to their bodies and minds, our bodies and minds. Performance and writing reveals and acknowledges invisible—complex, disabled—bodies and minds through a conversation with artists within the disability community who perform—display, expose—their own disabled bodies and minds to the public. I believe that performance, and performative writing, is a compelling communication tool for disabled artists because performance is a radical body experience, in that, the medium is the message.”