Mandy By The Sea
Meet the Homer Artist Whose Name You’ll Want to Know
Look outside. If you’re already outside, take in what’s around you. Are there plants? Trees, soil, rocks?
Look closer. Notice the leaves; how many are on each stem and how many petals are on each flower?
Heightened examination like this comes natural to Mandy Bernard, the artist behind the Instagram account @homesteadingroasters. There she posts photos of her work, Her medium is mainly textiles — aprons, bags, clothing and fabric — creating surface pattern design and silk screens.
If you read Edible Alaska’s story on the Kenai Food Hub and checked out the online store’s website, then you may have seen Bernard’s work.
Homesteading Roasters is live on the Kenai Peninsula Food Hub website! Link in profile. I've only got a handful of these green fiddlehead fern Forage shirts available at this time, but will have more colors/designs available as the season progresses. Aprons coming soon too! #handprintedtshirts #silkscreen #permasetaqua #waterbasedink #forage #originalillustration #wildfood #localfood #farmersmarket #foodhub #fiddleheads #fiddeheadferns #ferns #urbanforaging
“Food, local food, is such an important endeavor and I’m really excited to be talking about it,” Bernard said. She partnered with the food hub to sell her designs as the site becomes more like an online farmers market.
Though her career has been in land conservation until recently, Bernard said she also studied art at university. Since then she’s dabbled in art, mainly for a creative outlet. That is, until January 2017, when she was chosen as the artist in residence at the Bunnell Street Arts Center in Homer, Alaska.
Bernard said she was able to shape her project into whatever she wanted it to be, and for her that meant getting others outside with her.
“There’s a lot of beautiful patterns and shapes and textures — even colors — in the dead of winter and I wanted to highlight that,” she said.
The response to her separate art and science careers has been interesting, she said. Science colleagues have told her that art was a nice hobby and full-time artists, while none have said it outright, tended not to view her as a real artist.
“To me, they go hand-in-hand,” Bernard said. “Everything in the natural world has been the inspiration for the art that I’m making.”
“Art can help inform and explain science.” – Mandy Bernard
For now, she’s an artist in transition. Bernard laughed as she explained while she is moving away from conservation work, she’s also moved to a new home; a tiny house with a giant shop she plans to turn into a home studio.
Like nature, she is seeking balance — between doing good work and advocacy, between her science background and her artist calling, between selling retail art and fine art in gallery settings.
She mused that coming to art later in her life and being around people who view science and art as two different things has led to a kind of epiphany for her.
“I have this conservation background and the artistic ability and I think there is a way to further them both by really using them together,” she said.
When asked if her more overt pieces are meant to affect change, she said that has never been her aim.
“I don’t know that it has a message so much that I hope it helps people maybe look at their surroundings in a little different way,” Bernard said. “Or maybe it draws attention to a feature of our natural world that’s always been there, but maybe provides a different perspective on things.”
Bernard is finishing up contract work with the local land trust, where she previously worked for six years, while she navigates her transition into art. Originally from Virginia, this is her seventh year in Homer. All part of her “westward migration” since college.
The artist is not immune to the intoxicating allure of Alaska and Homer in particular holds a special place in her heart. Beyond the views and scenery, she said the community is unlike any other she’s experienced.
“It’s been like no other place I’ve lived … I think small towns the world over have similarities — and Homer is no exception to that — but there seems to be something a little extra special [here].”
To learn more about Mandy Bernard and her art, visit her website mandybernard.com