Sculpture- Installation-Performance

Hell Mouth:
Essex Flowers,

Essex Flowers is pleased to present Hell Mouth, an installation comprising textiles, puppets, watercolor paintings and a three-channel stop-motion video, by Laura Bernstein.

Hell Mouth opens wide, a threshold exposing a procession of hybrid creatures, hand-stitched from repur- posed textiles. Stop-motion animations display the convergence of monstrous and miraculous events tak- ing place within the materially layered world of the tent. Hell Mouth draws on medieval theater traditions that employed the image of the mouth of Hell as a way to visually dramatize the demise of the damned. Bernstein uses this image juxtaposed with worldly animals – the bears fleeing the American West, the murder hornets invading the Pacific Northwest, the spotted lantern flies swarming the Northeast — as an analogy for our current moment of upheaval: the ongoing pandemic, climate catastrophe and the rapid displacement of animal species.

Hell Mouth explores mythologies of metamorphoses and origin stories of beasts in relation to Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, The Book of Miracles and contemporary natural disasters. Can we call disasters natural anymore? What beasts will be unearthed or preserved as these ecological crises unfold? How will technological and biological advances shape the anatomy and somatic experience of future populations? Is our current society reverting back to a medieval mindset, where tradition takes precedence over reason and science, and alternate reality overpowers logic?

Photo documentation by Elisabeth Bernstein

Miraculous Disasters, three-channel stop-motion video installation, 3:15 min loop, 2021–ongoing, remixing Paola Di Tolla’s Encyclopedic Sound Score: Audible Tracings from Pliny The Elder's Natural History, 78 AD (2019)

Miracle Tapestries:
June 25, 2022
Art Yard, Hatch Biennial, Frenchtown, NJ, 

“Hatch features live music, performance, storytelling, and a parade of locals dressed as birds who hatch from a giant 14-foot egg to celebrate creative incubation and community.“

For Artyard's 2022 Hatch Biennial, June 25, 2022, Bernstein invited 14 artists and performers to contribute to the Miracle Tapestries Project with their own exploratory practices. Collectively drawing on each month of the year from past, present and future, the artists recall their own miraculous or mysterious encounters with nature through spoken word, sound and movement. In the spirit of ArtYard's Cranki and Cantastoria tradition, a collective poem was composed and performed in embrace for finding joy in the natural world despite its unknown and frightening future.

This collaboration includes:  Natessa Amin, Georgina Arroyo, Laura Bernstein, Jana Benitez, Claire Bidwell, Kryta Brayer, Tamar Ettun, Ava Hassinger, Rebecca Pristoop, Emily Reilly, Lydia Rosenberg, Ryan L Smith, Lexy Ho-Tai, Leah Victoria. and Amalia Wilson.

Miracle Tapestries Project seeks to stimulate curiosity and wonder toward the natural world through movement, color and form. The tapestries create an 100 foot long hand sewn calendar of symbols stitched from recycled fabrics and adorned with real and imagined creatures and elemental phenomena, recording events that occurred each month of 2020 as experienced by Bernstein.

Exploring the malleability of memory and symbols, Miracle Tapestries Project has become an invitation for public processional and collective meaning making, a way to mark (and celebrate) the passage of time through performance and group play in collaboration with Rebecca Pristoop and The Moving Company and Friends.

Photo documentation by Krysta Brayer

Miracle Tapestries: A Stage for Imagination and Invention in a New Age
May 1, 2021
Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, NY

A meditation on our current moment of climate crisis, the wonder, disbelief and inability to fully comprehend the scale and speed of catastrophes. Conceived and materialized by Laura Bernstein and presented in collaboration with The Moving Company and Friends, Miracle Tapestries has become a calendar of symbols, reflecting on the year 2020. The swathes of hand sewn fabrics adorned with dragons, comets, wildfires, bears and other real and imagined creatures and elemental phenomena, are explored through movement by a group of artists, collaborators, friends and performers as they make a procession down Willoughby Ave from Carlton Ave to Fort Greene Park. Once within Fort Greene Park the tapestries will be unfurled creating a container for miracles. It will act as the loci for various offerings, rituals, poetry readings, movement experiments and games, to help alleviate the grief and solitude experienced collectively and independently over the past year.

Collaborators include: ESHÉ All Day Hues, Nathan Albright, Georgina Arroyo, Krysta Brayer, Joey De Jesus, Shaun Ellison, Matt Evans, Adam Fitzgerald, Amanda Friedman, Lexy Ho-Tai, Maia Karo, Simone Kearney, Gabriel Kruis, Jemila MacEwan, Annabel Paran, Rachel Rabhan, Emily Reilly, David Sherman, Andrea Solstad, Leah Wishnia

The Moving Company and Friends (Laura Bernstein + Rebecca Pristoop) will present Miracle Tapestries, a calendar of symbols reflecting on the year 2020 as part of SHOW UP a day of radical joy throughout Brooklyn Parks, MAY 1, 2021, 3-5pm

Photo Documentation by Krysta Brayer


Y2K group at 5A, Brooklyn, NY

Exhibition statement:
Illuminator is an exhibition by Laura Bernstein composed of new sculpture with painting, works on paper and video. In this installation, Bernstein works within the liminal space of pictures and words while drawing on the imagery of anonymous authors who illuminated medieval manuscripts. Illuminator centers itself around a sexless wing finned figure, embedded with candles and barnacles--a humanoid candelabra--dripping, melting and congealing fleshy, gilded wax. Though the monks and nuns who illuminated manuscripts were forbidden from working in the dark or using candles for fear that their illuminations might go up in flames, Illuminator is built to both emit light and act as an alter/vessel for prayer. Presiding over a floor painting depicting the Fall of Babylon as an upside down city inspired by the “Bamberg Apocalypse 1000 A.D”, Bernstein’s works explore loss as a form of transformation that provides clarity of vision. Bernstein meditates on illuminated manuscripts as early picture books, stone animals as gods, and fire and water as fundamental tools for animation. In Pages From An Apocalyptic Picture Book, Bernstein reinterprets thumbnail images from the margins of encyclopedias of western civilization documenting medieval times. Infusing the black and white pictures with color, and adding, omitting or reorienting the composition and scale, Bernstein looks to these flat pictures in an effort to understand images as a form of narrative building and story telling rather than art.

Animals That Turned To Stone from LRB on Vimeo.

Animals That Turned To Stone is a video by Bernstein made in collaboration with Emily Taibleson on a 2019 trip to Rome, where Bernstein and Taibleson both studied in 2008. Their 2019 trip marks the first time they have both returned. Traversing the city on a “stone safari”, Bernstein and Taibleson went in search of dragons, lions, falcons, serpents, centaurs, Sphinx’s and more to capture and record all the beasts they could find (within reach). Simultaneous to filming, they read to each other aloud from the epic poem “Metamorphoses” by the Roman poet Ovid. Within this digital document, Bernstein and Taibleson contemplate the symbolism, mythology, morality and spirit of the ancient stone beasts filmed within the context of our climate crisis. Propelled by the current administration’s denial of and inability to protect, preserve, and remediate and restore our environment and the countless species at risk of extinction, Animals That Turned To Stone looks to the calcified past to speculate on the petrified future where creatures once alive exist only in stone.

Hybrid Ecologies

Bridge Projects, Children’s Museum of Art, NY, NY

Taking inspiration from The Book of Miracles, an illustrated manuscript depicting miraculous phenomena and awesome apocalyptic visions of the 16th century, Hybrid Ecologies looks to the past — ancient and medieval mythology — to speculate on the future of our changing times. As visitors travel through Hybrid Ecologies, the boundaries known to separate ecosystems collapse and begin to break. Creatures of the sea swim with those who fly in the sky, while sharing terrain with those known to inhabit the land. Desert, forest, and mountains converge. Fusing and confusing space and form and new relationships between species are built. As these barriers are shattered, visitors are invited step inside the suspended forms that act as helmets, to contemplate possibilities for cohabitation, mutation, and hybridization. With extinction and devastation comes the need for imagination, possibility for revelation, the discovery of new creation. An evolving community full of transformation and metamorphoses, Hybrid Ecologies offers visitors the opportunity to play within a living diorama to experience shifts in scale and time, to imagine a world where borders are fluid between all living species.

Accordion Suits for Commutes, roving public performance,

Greensboro, NC, 2014
Created at Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, NC and performed in collaboration with dancers and choreographers Cynthia Ling Lee, Brianna Taylor and their students. Accordion Suits for Commutes uses men's blazers from the museum’s collection as a foundation for creating collaborative clothing that examines group dynamics, movement negotiations and locomotion throughout the city’s center. 

Finding The Fall

Public performance, Philadelphia, PA and Vienna, Austria 2013-14
Documentation of a public performance, Vienna, Austria, 2014. A displaced parachutist explores the social geography of various urban environments while searching for the action that propelled her into the space she walks.


Finding The Fall Vienna from LRB on Vimeo.


(Installation at Franz Joseph Kai Gallery, Vienna, Austria) Newsprint, recycled texts, photocopies of ink drawings, papier-mâché, cardboard.  Dimensions variable.  The carousel’s radial symmetry acts as a focal point for a variety of actions and events to unfold--similar to early gymnasiums--where bodies bend and flex to “shed skin” and mold into what is imagined as a “more desirable” version of self. The Carousel holds hanging helmets instead of horses. Inside the helmets are fragmented drawings of figures exercising and training.


3:07 HD three channel video performance (color, sound)
The Velcro and wool figures navigate their physical relationships within various institutional and transitional spaces, such as the library and the elevator.

In The Shape of a Watch-Coat

Wool and wooden peg, 30” x 12” x 67”
Based off of a passage from Moby-Dick from The Mast-Head chapter. Ishmael analogizes a house to an ‘unclad body’. Displayed at the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 2012--2018.