Interview: Bernice Merced
Luca Curci talks with Bernice Merced, winner of ARTIST OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2021.
Bernice Merced is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist with a home-based studio in Central Florida. Having a professional background in multimedia design and development, she often intermixes graphic design elements with traditional art methods in her work. Art and design have always been a passion and a constant in Bernice’s life. From drawing with color pencils at the very early age of 2-years old to immersing herself in a range of creative pursuits through the years that followed, including painting and taking on graphic arts as a teenager, graphic design and web design in college, to a professional career in multimedia design and development as an adult.
“In my art, I prefer not to limit myself to a specific style or niche, nor keep to one medium or concept. Instead, I am interested in experimenting with different processes in the analog and digital space. Whether painting, illustration, photography, or digital art, I aspire to depict aesthetic interest, depth and for the work to have a narrative that resonates with the viewer where they can project themselves into the work.”
LUCA CURCI – What is art for you?
BERNICE MERCED – Art to me is a lifestyle, freedom; it is boundless. Art is a way to express thoughts, perceptions, and emotions that transcend language and barriers. It can bring people together, heal, and inspire.
LC – What are you currently working on?
BM – I have two projects going on at the moment. I am experimenting a little with mixed realities using AR technology as an extension of my art. And the other is a tribute series of abstract pop art portraits in mixed media.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
BM – I was interested in art from a very young age and loved drawing, coloring, painting, and creating things by sculpting with clay or wax. Even as a child, I did not limit myself in what I wanted to try or do. I would draw objects, robots, people, cartoons, comic characters, trees, animals, the skies (Moon and Sun scapes), winter scenes, and self-portraits from childhood photos or my imagination. While growing up, I did a lot of self-learning. I would check out books on animals from the library to study their shapes and contours. I was also interested in shapes and textures. I would collect: rocks, leaves, branches, and tree bark and then replicate them with pencil on paper. I loved collecting anything that had any graphic art in it as well as art magazines. I studied the composition, colors, lines, contours, and textures of anything that sparked my interest and practiced replicating what I saw. I would examine them intensely and learn from what I observed.
I always felt at my core that art was an essential part of my life, and there was no doubt in my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I studied art through practical experience, trial, and error, and examining the work of other artists. My fascination with art led me to creative pursuits in commercial art, graphic design, and web design, to a professional career in multimedia design and development as an adult-where I have been practicing professionally for 18 years in visual communications and interactive design. Experimenting with different mediums and styles and studying the work of other artists played a significant influence on my desire to explore different artistic disciplines and how I approach my art practice today.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
BM – I think artists play many roles in society today, whether they are aware of it or not. In these unprecedented times that we are in, people turn to art, whether visual art, poetry, music, books, and film, as a way to escape from the things they cannot control. As artists, we can bring joy, inspiration, and hope to uplift the human spirit. The role artists can play in contemporary art today is to create art that leaves a lasting impact that influences people for the better. In a sense, contemporary artists play the role of record keepers of the present time; their work reflects their insights into current issues, values, and culture shifts. Their art has the power to influence culture and effect change.
The selected works for this interview, in a sense, are a record of our time. Amidst the unprecedented global health care crisis from the COVID pandemic, we’ve seen health care worker heroes emerge who are day in and day out in the frontlines despite the risks in helping those in need of care. As an expression of gratitude and to bring joy in a dark time, these works pay tribute to health care workers around the world.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
BM – As a multidisciplinary artist, I prefer not to limit myself to a specific style; having the freedom to experiment and explore different processes and having flexibility with techniques and disciplines fuels my creativity.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
BM – I find that I do a little of both. There are times where I just let the ideas flow organically. I start with an empty canvas or blank paper and just let it evolve intuitively on its own. Some of my favorite pieces came about from a blank canvas or paper. Other times I have a theme or concept in mind, and I capture it by doing a quick sketch of the composition before starting. However, through its creation process, I alternate between intuitive and intentional approaches. Ultimately, I enjoy the journey of the process. And I like to capture the process along the way, from inception through the final piece-to reflect on my choices and see the change in direction I may have taken at a given point.