Claudia Bernardi is an internationally-known artist who works in the fields of art, human rights, and social justice. She has focused her art on collaborating with victims of human rights violations.
Born in Buenos Aires, Bernardi lived through the Argentine military junta that ruled the country from 1976 to 1983, a time of dictatorship and extreme political unrest. She left Argentina for the United States in 1979. In 1984, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (AFAT) was established under the new government in Argentina to supply evidence of violations of human rights carried out against civilian populations. The team utilized traditional archaeology to examine, document, and publicly expose mass burial graves. Bernardi returned to Argentina to work in collaboration with AFAT, and continued to work with the team on exhumations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Ethiopia. Bernardi's role was to create archaeological maps documenting the finding of human remains, associated objects, and ballistic evidence.
Thirteen years after the end of a brutal civil war in El Salvador, Bernardi founded Walls of Hope in the city of Perquin, Argentina. The school brings together children and adults from both sides of the fractured community. Its inclusive, nonsectarian agenda teaches art as a means of reconciliation, diplomacy, self-expression, and community building. The school serves as a model of art, education, and human rights, creating art in response to the demands, hopes, and desires of the community.
She has continued the mission of Walls of Hope in Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Columbia, Guatemala, and Canada. Believing that art is more effective than politics, Bernardi uses her work and activism to articulate the memories of survivors of human rights atrocities. She speaks of these tragedies in a way that communicates the persistence of hope, integrity, and remembrance.
Bernardi has exhibited her work at; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art; Tokushima Modern Art Museum; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; DAH Teatar in Belgrade, Serbia; University of Haifa, Israel; MACLA/Movimento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana; Center for Latin American Studies at University of Califonia, Berkeley; Carl Gorman Museum at University of California, Davis; and Tucson Museum of Art.
She was awarded in 2004 an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Fine Arts, Honoris Causa, by the College of Wooster, Ohio. Bernardi received an MFA from the National Institute of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires and an MA and her second MFA from the University of California at Berkeley.
She has taught at the Universidad del Salvador, Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, California College of the Arts, Mills College, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She was a California Arts Council Artist-in-Residence from 1990–1993 and 1994–1995 for the Artist in the Community project directed to the population of political refugees and survivors of torture from Latin America and was an East Bay Community Foundation Art Project Artist-in-Residence in 1993–1994.