March 27 – May 5

stArt.dt (Wake Downtown)

Drawings and Paintings by Leanna Bernish (’24)


While I was studying abroad, the natural settings of Austria, Italy, and Washington made me feel at home despite them being unknown and unfamiliar places. I felt connected to the trees and mountains in similar ways to how I feel about the parks at home in North Carolina. While they are not the same as those in North Carolina, they can all evoke awe, calm, and inspiration. Upon this reflection, I realized that this feeling connected with one of the takeaways from my personality psychology class: there are more differences within cultures than between cultures. The unique differences in the natural landscapes of these different countries and environments are valuable in and of themselves and make these places special. I feel that they are united by common feelings of connection and awe. There are physical similarities as well – Austria, North Carolina, and Washington all have towering forests and mountains in shades of blue, green, and brown. “

“This exhibition explores the connections and sense of home I found in art, nature, and with the other members of the Vienna cohort while studying abroad at the Flow House. The phrase, “universal language of nature,” came to me when I was on a train to Prague, looking out the window at the sunny hills of the Czech Republic. I noticed that the landscapes looked like lands in other parts of Austria and in rural North Carolina. Nature is a common tongue that we can each understand. I gathered inspiration as I explored each place. Dynamic lighting or brilliant colors would catch my eye and root me to the moment. In the creation of this body of work, my style has been influenced by Impressionism. Impressionism creates an antithetical structure that I adore by capturing subjects in a balance of realism and abstraction. With time and reflection, I have grown more comfortable with letting myself explore as I am creating. This body of work, with the loose line work and exploration of color and scale, illustrates how I am working on getting out of my comfort zone by rejecting perfectionism.. I am allowing myself to see what I make when I let go. I additionally explore this as I push myself to draw from life for a selection of these newer works.  Without a photo reference, I must work faster to capture the lighting and hues of the scene before me. This theme is evident in my oil pastel works, a medium which allows me to be bold and fast.”

“These pieces allow me to explore vibrant and warm memories of my adventures and experiences within nature. Through this exhibition, I seek to reflect on my own experiences from study abroad and my travels in North Carolina and Washington and connect them outwards. The universal language of nature will also be fostered by the viewer, as they reflect upon and share their own memories of walks among trees and mountains, of golden hour and sunsets and more through the collaborative work included in the show. Through this dialogue, I aim to find commonalities and unique differences on how unique individuals experience the natural world around us. I hope the viewer is inspired to embrace novel places and people with open arms, to connect with them on what is familiar and what is new.”

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