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Sponsored / May 2, 2021

Embracing the Wisdom and Inspiration of Community

Darcie Bernhardt showcases authentic intergenerational perspectives and experiences through her art in this video profile from the RBC Emerging Artists Project series From Within

At RBC, we are steadfast in our commitment to helping recognize and celebrate emerging Canadian talent. The RBC Emerging Artists Project works specifically to bridge the gap between emerging and established by strengthening artists’ access to professional networks, mentorship and training, and providing them with exposure to new and diverse audiences. We are thrilled to share our video series From Within, a reflection on artistic inspiration and practice, featuring five talented artists who create conceptually rigorous and visually stunning work. Each of these artists recognizes the power of art not only as a medium for self-expression, but also as a powerful tool for addressing complex social issues, encouraging open dialogue and inspiring new perspectives.

Darcie Bernhardt works with memory. Having grown up in the Inuvialuit community of Tuktoyaktuk, on the northern shores of the Northwest Territories, Bernhardt grounds her practice in a deep sense of place, in particular the vast scale and life-giving properties of the Arctic landscape. With a focus on her identity and community, Bernhardt presents a direct experience of life in the North as a way to reclaim her culture from the colonial gaze and skewed Eurocentric narratives. Drawing from her own archive of mostly low-resolution or faded photographs taken in her community, Bernhardt uses paint to trace the physical bodies of her subjects, the colour and pattern of their environments and the symbolic, subjective and fragmented memories that each image contains. Often working large-scale, Bernhardt paints to honour her subjects and create a personal mythology, rejecting the hierarchy of present over past, the recorded over the remembered. Her painting Nungki (2019) lovingly reproduces a snapshot of her uncle making slippers at home. In this frozen moment, soft edges and a washed-out quality contrast highly detailed patterns and renderings of everyday objects, a compositional style characteristic of Bernhardt’s recent work. The scene is bathed in bright light, alluding to periods of 24-hour sunshine and providing an ethereal, almost unfinished look that functions as memory does: tenuous but vivid, slippery yet indelible.