"I want to link the heart with the eye so that the invisible speaks through the visible."
I paint water microcosms. I seek moments in nature to explore the expansive human spirit and cosmos. Every gestured mark plays off the one before and leads into the next, much like music or dance. Color amplifies the vision. This work investigates the natural ecosystems of wetlands, creeks, and lakes, while exploring the spiritual ecology of the interconnected mind with a painterly approach. I use energetic brushwork and color as light to reflect heightened states of being, and to show the ever changing states of nature.
Justin Bernhardt grew up next door to artists on either side of his childhood home in Kalamazoo, MI. From an early age, he would visit their houses to watch them work, and create with them. His focus has been on painting since 1989 when he transitioned from practicing the violin into the visual arts. Around this time, he was greatly inspired on a trip to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. by the bright and dramatic Hudson River School landscape painters. His recent work goes beyond the tradition of American landscape painting to embrace a contemporary ideology and natural abstraction. Bernhardt graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in 1999. In 2013, he earned an MFA from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. After graduating from college in 1999, he traveled the United States in his van and painted the landscape for exhibit in shows. From 2001-2005 and 2007-2008 Bernhardt owned two art galleries in Kalamazoo exhibiting his own work and the artwork of other artists. He has won several awards including three Purchase Prize awards, a Best of Show, First Place in Painting, a Merit Scholarship to study at Ox-Bow School of Fine Art, and the Lang Scholarship to study at Guilford College. Bernhardt’s work has been collected by hospitals, colleges, schools, businesses, and private collectors worldwide. Inspired by Michigan waterways, he began the water microcosm series in 2009. He has instructed art courses at Kalamazoo Valley Community College since 2002. Currently, he creates from his studio and home on a partial wetland lake in Southwest Michigan, where he lives with his wife and son.
5% of the profits from every painting sale on this website goes to the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations, Inc., which "is a non-profit, primarily volunteer organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and effectively managing Michigan’s vast treasure of inland lakes and streams as well as advocating for the protection of riparian property rights."