bio statement

A Brief Note About My Artwork

My work ranges in scale from intricate patterns of pins on styrofoam and stiches on fabric to small- and large-scale public installations and insertions; and ranges in scope from very personal investigative paintings, videos and sculptures to collaborative public art projects. I use the readymade art of pop culture to investigate the nature of artificiality, the artificiality of nature, and the nature of fine art itself. My work tries to reveal and question structures of power (both in the "real" world and in the art world), break down these structures, and hopefully inspire individuals to engage in their own micro-politics.

I also write about art for a variety of publications including co-founding and co-editing, an art and culture magazine focused on linking the vibrant Bay Area scene to the international community, and have taught art at many levels. I created, teach in and co-direct the Meridian Interns Program, an after school art making program for inner city youth. We work together to produce artwork (installations, performances, murals, etc.) and in the process we break down cultural boundaries and increase modes of communication, challenging and changing the way we all view the world. And that -- the breaking down of boundaries, the challenging of existing structures, and increasing communication wherever and however possible -- is what I attempt in all of my various practices.

Amy Berk Bio

Amy Berk was born in Brooklyn in 1967 during the Summer of Love. She received her M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995 and her B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1989.

Her work, an arte-povera blend of minimalism and pop addressing issues of the natural vs. the synthetic, the organic and the sublime has been exhibited at many venues in the Bay Area and beyond including Center for the Arts, Museum of Folk and Craft Art, Southern Exposure and scene/escena in San Francisco, the Oakland Museum, Traywick Gallery, the Bedford Gallery, and the Oakland Art Gallery in the East Bay, Kraushaar Gallery in NYC and at the Museu du Republica in Rio de Janeiro. Reviews of her work have appeared in many journals and periodicals including Sculpture, Artpapers, SF Chronicle, SF Examiner, and SF Bay Guardian. She has written art reviews for Art in America, Art Issues, SPEAK and Artweek among others and is hard at work as part of an editorial team for a new internet art and culture magazine that addresses cultural production in the bay area, nationally and internationally called stretcher (

She has taught in a variety of venues including San Francisco State, SFAI's Extension Education Program, SFAEP, the Excel program at Amherst College and in Southern Exposure╠s Artist in Education Program. She currently co-directs and teaches in the Meridian Interns Program (, an innovative art-making and gallery management program for high school students.

She has received a number of awards and commissions including the prestigious Gerbode Purchase Award, a commission from the Goethe Institut-SF to create a permanent installation and (with Andy Cox) from the SF Arts Commission to design and present a series of public posters along Market Street. She is a member of the agit prop art group Together We Can Defeat Capitalism ( and was a member of the Artists Committee of the San Francisco Art Institute from 1996-1999 serving on the Annual Committee in 1996 and as Chair from 1997-1999. She co-directed PUSH! Artspace in 1996-1997 and has served several times as a juror for the Diego Rivera Gallery at SFAI (which she co-directed during graduate school). She has lectured internationally including at the "What's Left of Theory" Conference in Tasmania, at Whanganui Polytechnic in New Zealand and in the Bay Area at University of California at Berkeley and Davis, California College of Arts and Crafts and Sonoma State. She has participated in the 1997, 1998 and 2003 Art Writing Conferences at SFAI. Also at SFAI she helped to organize and moderated "Bubble Rap: the new Bay Area art and criticism in 1998. Also in 1998 she was nominated for the SECA award from SFMOMA. In summer 2001 she was awarded an artists in residence at New Pacific Studio in Mount Bruce, Zealand where she created a series of cloaks (recently exhibited at the Museum of Folk and Craft Art), and two projects with Andy Cox, one, a video series entitled Mount Bruce documenting their rural neighborhood for neighborhood films (, and an international internet video conference ( to try to make sense of the world post 9/11.

Amy Berk Statement

illusion, consumption and artifice - "natural vs. synthetic" - the organic and the sublime - rich sensitive color- reflect the foibles, failings and feelings found inside of imperfect us - revelatory surfaces revealing instant intimacy, nostalgia for now - minimal POP

I break things down into their inherent qualities in order to build something new out of them. Inspired/motivated by both material and meaning, I reconfigure/thread together disparate items/concepts. Using common materials, I load and recontextualize materials to create new paradigms of content and meaning using the fragments/shards of our society. Utilizing the materiality of such items as insulation, pins, reflective items and various synthetic cloths, I transform them into things beautiful, aesthetic and possibly even sublime. I work both intuitively and conceptually - oftentimes together to hold the proverbial mirror up - reflecting our pathos and pains, our triumphs and tribulations, our flights of fancies and our failings in order to produce poignant, witty and stimulating objects.

"Reference to domesticity, community and habitat; human scale; a layering of diverse cultural references; a rejection of coherent style, unitary authorship, the distinctions between literal and metaphoric, natural and artificial, through the transformation of the installation into a 'poor' theatre where culture and nature coincide." from Arte Povera by Carolyn Christor-Bakargiev

All of my work has been influenced by (as I have been) and is informed by: Minimalism, Feminism, Dada, Situationism, Suprematism, Arte Povera, Long Island, Hollywood, San Francisco, London, the shtetl, the silk road, Rothko, Rodchenko, Baldessari, Bonnard, Duchamp, Mondrian, Martin, Holzer, Hoffman, Ryman, Flavin, Ireland, Klein, Kruger, Kelly, and so many and much more.

Amy Berk 2001