works by Berenice
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My work has always been involved with water images, the element of birth and renewal in nature. This would probably not have been so if I hadn’t grown up in the Bronx, particularly Hillside Homes, which being tucked away in the Northeast corner of the borough, was close to Pelham Bay, Orchard Beach, City Island, and seemingly endless marshes.

From an early age, I had a great need to explore. Just walking up Boston Post Road to the drawbridge, with the swampy inlets all around, seemed a wonderfully mysterious adventure. The edges of all these waterways seemed particularly important to me, and before I was 12, I began to draw the marshes, and what I found around them.

By my teens, these images were embedded in my psyche due to my habitual use (or need) of this unique environment. And, although I have since drawn on other places of nature, such as the waterways of Long Island (a close relation to the early experiences), Southern swamps, Northern ice, and most recently, tropical rain forests, the waterways of the northeast Bronx have remained as the base of my life’s work.

My ecological involvement also dates from this early period. In my wanderings as a child, the discovery of man’s carelessness in his use of the land seemed enormously sad to me. No one at that time spoke of the environment or ecological concerns, so I didn’t have words to put to this feeling. But as young as I was, I felt oddly responsible.

Today, this sense of responsibility to the environment is one of the elements in my work. One of my concerns is to remind people of the beauty, terror, and the fear of loss of our fragile ecosystem, and to engage the viewer in the experience of being in (and a part of) nature.

Another thing I could not understand as a child was the denial of nature by the adult world around me unless it was controlled and a civilized “landscape” was created. Today I believe it is, in part, the subconscious message of the awesome sexuality of primal nature that had caused man to trash, destroy, or try to control nature; or to become blind to the environment.

This closeness to nature, which is the basis of my work and my being, is intricately connected to growing up in a part of the Bronx which gave me access to my beloved wetlands.