Artist Bernard Edmonds Presents Newest Sculpture
By Dianne Anderson
Not a hair out of place when casting out the solid bronze bust of Kamala Harris meant painstaking work for artist and sculptor Bernard Edmonds, who always labors over the eyes, the nose and the mouth.
From hours and hours of studying faces, learning the nuances by memory, nothing escapes his senses, not the smallest of detail.
All his projects are close to his heart, but Vice President Harris came with many emotions because of who she is, and what she is at this point in history. He extensively studied her interviews, her speeches and photographs to render the most lifelike image possible.
“With Kamala Harris, it was the pearls and the smile that got me. I had to quite naturally want to render her in the three-dimensional form. If you don’t put those pearls and that beautiful smile in there, you haven’t captured her,” he said.
Edmonds created the bronze sculpture for the new Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California.
Among his many artistic works, he created the bronze bust of Booker T. Washington displayed at the Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside. Also, life-sized bronze statues of George & Pauline Murillo, at California State San Bernardino University. “Liberating Africa” was commissioned by the King of Nigeria, a representation of a queen holding the continent of Africa.
With Booker T. Washington, he noticed the great educator always held his head a certain way.
“When the family saw it, they all laughed. They said you captured that,” he said.
In the bust of Booker T. Washington, he likes to share the backstory, about how Washington, a Black man, was great friends with Frank Miller, a white man who owned and developed the Mission Inn. Back then, he said they hung out, and regularly walked up Mt. Rubidoux.
“Booker T. Washington came to the Mission Inn to teach and was invited back several times. People say why is there a Black man in the Mission Inn? I make sure that all the tour guides have that component in their speech,” he said.
Edmonds applauds his mentor, local acclaimed artist Charles Bibbs, with whom he has worked on the Art 2000 Visual Artists Association. There, the focus was getting artists prepared to monetize their skills.
Besides sculpting, Edmonds is an all-around artist, painter and musician, and incorporates social justice themes in his work.
“It’s important that I contribute to not only documenting Black history, but also to be part of the solution in whatever way I can to communicate the piece of what’s going on in our society,” he said.
On a personal level, losing his mother to Alzheimer’s and dementia also influenced his work to reflect how African Americans are at higher risk of the disease. Through music, his dedication to the cause helped with his own emotional healing after she passed, which led to his “I Care Collection” series.
“In painting that series, I was inspired by God to write this song and let people know that it is a daunting task, but it’s all about the person going through dementia and Alzheimer’s and also in support of the caregivers. They do a lot,” he said.
Art tells a story from an emotional side, but he feels that it’s also functional to explain and solve some deeper questions in society. One of his paintings, “Late for Church,” was entitled First Baptist on the entry, but not by accident.
Some folks disagreed. They wanted it to be named Second Baptist.
“I said no, because we were given the edict of having to use Second Baptist by whites in the Baptist denomination, they used First Baptist. I made it First Baptist because it gets brought up to another level,” he said.
Edmonds said that helping other young artists as a way of giving back is important to continue the legacy.
As a mentor, many have asked him how to make their art work for them, or at least do what they love while earning a living.
He said there are a lot of artists out there with amazing skills and great abilities, but they do not know how to market themselves.
“They don’t know how to scale their business and keep themselves from being ripped off. I’ve offered some services free just in the kindness that some people have done it for me,” he said.
For more information, see https://bernieart.com/ and https://www.iegives.org/funds/icarealz/
For the Civil Rights Institute, see https://www.inlandcivilrights.org/