I began to make art in earnest after leaving a rewarding career as a civil rights lawyer.  I had, at that time, two young children to whom I was tethered and, in my first body of work, I explored the sorrows as well as the sweetness of family life, and the ambivalence that shadows intimate relationships.  My subjects were often young people, though it was never my intention to examine childhood specifically.  Rather, I was interested more broadly in the complexities of the human psyche and I found the uninhibited behavior of children to be a rich source of clues to the personal and social dramas with which we also struggle as adults.


As I continued as an artist, I was increasingly inspired by materials and process and I began to make mixed media works on handmade paper. These works are less representational than my several  earlier series, but they share a similar undertow of tension and mystery, and a preoccupation with the imperfect, the messy, the raw, and the vulnerable.


I live and work in Philadelphia and New York, and spend my summers at a family cottage in rural northern Pennsylvania.






Gallery 339, Philadelphia, PA: www.gallery339.com


KLOMPCHING Gallery, Brooklyn, NY:  www.klompching.com


Catherine Couturier Gallery, Houston, TX: www.catherinecouturier.com


Galerie BMG, Woodstock NY: www.galeriebmg.com


Photo-Eye Gallery, Santa Fe, NM: www.photoeye.com/RitaBernstein



Selected Exhibitions



Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg, PA (Solo Exhibition), “Consequences: Photographs by Rita Bernstein,” 2016.


Gallery 339, Philadelphia, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” 2015.


CFEVA, Philadelphia, “Holiday Show Featuring Work  by CFEVA  Artists  Artists and Alumni,” 2015.


Rox Gallery, New York, NY, “Robert Doisneau with Rita Bernstein, Julian Darwall, and Emily Hope,” 2014.


Verve Gallery of Photography, Santa Fe, NM, “Diffusion Retrospective Exhibition,” 2014.


Galerie BMG, Woodstock, NY, “PhotoEncaustics,” 2012-2013.


Griffin Museum, Winchester, MA (Solo Exhibition), “Undertow,” 2012.


John Cleary Gallery, Houston, TX (Solo Exhibition), “Out of Place,” 2012.


The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, “The Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women,” 2012 (catalogue edited by Robert Cozzolino, Curator of Modern Art, PAFA).


Rye Arts Center, Rye, NY, “Look at Me: A Cross-Section of Contemporary Portraiture,” 2012.


KlompChing Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, “Art Fair,” 2011.


Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, Atlanta, “Diffusion Magazine Volume III Exhibition,” 2011.


Galerie 339, Philadelphia (Solo Exhibition), “Ghost of Summer,” 2010.


Galerie BMG, Woodstock (Solo Exhibition), “Undertow,” 2010.


University of the Arts, Philadelphia, “Best of Show, Winners of the 2010 Photo Review Photography Contest,” 2010.


Tilt Gallery, Phoenix, “Who’s in the House at Tilt Gallery,” 2010.


Museum of Fine Arts Houston, “Remembering John Cleary,” 2009.


Gallery 339, Philadelphia, "Personal Views: Contemporary Photographic Portraiture," 2009.


The Philadelphia Museum of Art,  “Emerging to Established,” 2008.


John Cleary Gallery, Houston, TX, “Deck the Walls,” 2008.


Photoeye Gallery, Santa Fe, NM (Two Person Exhibition), 2008.


Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA,  “14th Juried Exhibition” (juried by Katherine Ware), 2008.


Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh, PA (Two Person Exhibition),  2008.


Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, 2008.


23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, OR, “Resurrection: A New Look at Old Photographic Processes,” 2008.


Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA,  “13th Juried Exhibition” (juried by Brian Clamp), 2007.


The Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Summer Vacation:  Photographs from the Collection,” 2006.


Open Lens Gallery, Philadelphia, “Growing Up Girl:  Photography by Rita Bernstein, Ellie Brown, and Jeff Hurwitz,” 2006.


The Felicity R. “Bebe” Benoliel Gallery, Philadelphia (Solo Exhibition), “Past Perfect,” 2006.


New York University, Kimmel Center Gallery, New York (Solo Exhibition), “Fragile: Do Not Bend,” 2005.


Perkins Center for the Arts, Moorestown, NJ,  “Noteworthy:  Award-Winning Images from Perkins Center’s Juried Photography Exhibitions,” 2005.


Art in City Hall, Philadelphia, “Art in City Hall 1984-2005,” 2005.


University of the Arts, Gallery 1401, Philadelphia (Solo Exhibition),  “Homesick,” 2003.


University of Pennsylvania, Burrison Art Gallery (Solo Exhibition),  “Picture Stories,” 2003.


Fleisher Art Memorial Challenge Exhibition, Dene M. Louchheim Galleries, Philadelphia, 2002.


Open Lens Gallery, Philadelphia, “Perspectives in Portraiture:  Photographs by Rita Bernstein, Larry Fink, Judy Gelles, and Michael Smith,” 2002.


Gallery 231, Philadelphia, “Hometown: Philadelphia-area Photographers in the Photo Review,” 2002.


Perkins Center for the Arts, Moorestown, NJ, “Kinship: Prints by Rita Bernstein and Judith Brodsky,” 2001.


Nexus Foundation for Today’s Art, Philadelphia, “Take Five On the American Landscape” (curated by Jacqueline van Rhyn), 2001.


Gallery at Historic Yellow Springs, Chester Springs, PA, “Photography: Contemporary Prospect 2000” (by invitation of curator Stephen Perloff), 2000.


The Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, NJ (Solo Exhibition), “Friends and Families: Photographs by Rita Bernstein,” 1999.


Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia (Solo Exhibition), 1998.


Philadelphia Art Alliance, “SIX (The Work of Six Contemporary Women Artists),” 1998.


Perkins Center for the Arts, Moorestown, NJ, “Photography 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 Exhibitions,” 1997, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.



Selected Honors



Photo Review International Competition, Honorable Mention (Brian Paul Clamp, juror), 2010.


Woodmere Art Museum, Purchase Prize, Perkins Center for the Arts, Photography 28 Exhibition, 2009.


Juror’s Award for Artistic Excellence (Debra Klomp, juror), Perkins Center for the Arts, Photography 28 Exhibition, 2009.


Critical Mass, Photolucida, Top 50 Photographers, 2008.


Juror’s Award for Artistic Excellence (Michael Mazzeo, juror), Perkins Center for the Arts, Photography 27 Exhibition, 2008.


Silver Eye Center for Photography, Fellowship 2007 (Kate Ware, juror), Honorable Mention, 2007.


Juror’s Award for Artistic Excellence (Katherine Ware, juror), Perkins Center for the Arts, Photography 25 Exhibition, 2006.


Black and White Magazine, Excellence Award, Portfolio Contest, 2006.


Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts, 2005.


Artist in Residence, Girard College (Philadelphia), 2005-06.


The Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography, Semi-Finalist, 2004.


Fleisher Art Memorial Challenge Artist, 2001-2002.


Silver Eye Center for Photography, Fellowship 2000 (Jeffrey Hoone, juror), Honorable Mention, 2000.


Ruttenberg Arts Foundation Award, The Friends of Photography and Ansel Adams Center for Photography, Honorable Mention, 1999.


Johnson and Johnson World Headquarters Corporate Collection, Purchase Prizes, Perkins Center for the Arts, Photography 17, 18, 23, and 24 Exhibitions, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005.


Juror’s Award for Artistic Excellence (Merry Foresta, juror), Perkins Center for the Arts, Photography 17 Exhibition, 1997.


Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Visual Arts Fellowship in Photography, 1996-97.


Joseph S.Wohl Memorial Award, Main Line Art Center, “The Power of Paper Exhibition”, 1997.


Leeway Foundation Photography Grant, Honorable Mention Award, 1996.


First Place (The Berry and Homer Award for Excellence in Photography), The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Juried Photography Show, 1996.


The Center for Emerging Visual Artists (formerly Creative Artists Network), Philadelphia, Affiliate Artist, 1995-1997.



Selected Bibliography



BW GALLERIST, On Site: Best of 2012 AIPAD Show, New York, NY, March 30, 2012.


The Philadelphia Inquirer, Galleries: Photographers Reveal What's In a Face - And in Their Heads, July 31, 2011.


LensWork Extended, Rita Bernstein: The Psychological Landscape, #95, July-August, 2011.


Diffusion Magazine, Spotlight: Rita Bernstein, Volume III, 2011.


Chutzpah Magazine, Rita Bernstein @ Gallery 339, Winter 2011.


BW Gallerist, On Site: Best of 2010 Photo Review Competition Winners, December 1, 2010.


BW Gallerist, On Site: Rita Bernstein Ghost of Summer, Gallery 339, Philadelphia, November 29, 2010.


finity, Newsletter by David Vestal, September 2010.


Woodstock Times, Caught in the Undertow, September 16, 2010.


Image World, Finity Infinity (essay by Nancy Brokaw), February 10, 2010.


Jonathan Wallis, Assistant Professor of Art History, Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia City Paper, Perspective: Portrait Photography at Gallery 339, October 23, 2009.


B+W Magazine (UK), American Connection, September 2009.


Photo District News Online, 2009 PhotoLucida Reviewers Discuss Their Favorite Portfolios, May 7, 2009.


Lenscratch, Rita Bernstein, October 2, 2008.


AG: The International Journal of Photographic Art & Practice, Portfolio, including Back Cover Image, Spring 2008.


Pinhole Journal, Vol.22, No.3, That’s All Folks, December 2006.


Black and White Magazine, Portfolio, including Cover Image, August 2006.


Pinhole Journal, Vol.21, No.3, Contemporary Images 14, December 2005.


Black and White Magazine, Rita Bernstein, October 2004.


Pinhole Journal, Vol. 19, No.3, Portraits and Figures by Women, December 2003.


The Philadelphia Inquirer, Rita Bernstein: Young Homebodies, July 18, 2003.


The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Faces of Portraiture, March 7, 2003.


Photovision Magazine, Luck and Magic: Photographs of Rita Bernstein, July/August 2002.


The Philadelphia Inquirer, Rita Bernstein: Faces of Childhood, February 22, 2002.


Shots Magazine, A Few Thoughts on the Work of Rita Bernstein, Gina Kelly, and Linda Smogor by Jock Sturges, September 2000.


The Photo Review, Rita Bernstein, Photographs: Friends and Families, Spring 1999.


Art Matters, March 1999.


The New York Times, Up-to-the-Minute Show With Echoes of the Past, February 14,1999.


The New York Times, Sensibilities of Childhood Without the Sentimentality, January 24,1999.






The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Philadelphia Museum of Art


University of Michigan Museum of Art


Woodmere Art Museum


Johnson and Johnson World Headquarters Corporate Collection


Honickman Family Collection


Felicity Benoliel (deceased)






University of Pennsylvania Law School, Juris Doctor


Barnard College, Columbia University, B.A. in English



Additional Websites



Aperture Images: www.apertureimages.org


International Pinhole Photographer’s Gallery: www.pinholeresource.com