Bernarda Bryson

artist artwork
1903 Columbus, OH

1921-25 Ohio University
1925-29 Cleveland School of Art

Bernarda Bryson sold her first lithograph while still studying at the Cleveland School of Art, and she showed at the prestigious Cleveland Print Club and the Cleveland Museum of Art Spring Show. After graduation, she pursued a career in commercial art, from accurate perspectives of midtown Cleveland to illustrating book covers. She continued to do freelance work, however, honing her lithographic skills.

Between 1929 and 1932, while writing art reviews for several publications, Bernarda met Ben Shahn, an artist about whom she had already written and whom she would later marry. In 1933 Bernarda headed east to New York, where she was a founding member of The Artists' Union and, through the PWAP, was employed as a lithographer and etcher. Around 1934, Bernarda Bryson was invited to Washington, DC to set up the lithographic shop for the U.S. Resettlement Administration. Here she completed a series called The Vanishing American Frontier and a small book of watercolors about runaway slaves. The originals for both series are now in the Library of Congress.

In 1935, she was an assistant to Ben Shahn on a school mural in Roosevelt, NJ and again, in 1938, they won a competition for thirteen murals for the Bronx Post Office. Many book and magazine illustration assignments followed, most notably Fortume and Scientific American magazines, until Ben Shahn's death in 1969. She resumed illustration and painting in oils in 1970 and in 1982 had her first one-woman show.