Emma Bee Bernstein


Huge vertiginous grief.

In my dreams we were complete. The B's sustaining creative family . . . our community. Emma could not leave us.

Snow has stopped falling—luminous branches. So much love between you. We all flourished—took purpose, inspiration.

Was Emma 12 when she made our first feminist interview!

Future promise . . .  Our shared roots of speaking, M/E/A/N/I/N/G that generous forum.

Emma brightening, deepening, always beautiful. Devil's power grabbed her. (I risked, escaped that force, invisible battle years ago.) You sustained her-- never doubt that.....the difficulties and the joys in motion with her, so long as was possible.

It is a mosaic of broken hearts leading us...


Sometimes a small, deep rupture in a passionate heart becomes so huge, engulfing, that futurity, beauty, hope are pulled away from us into it's undertow—away from all we can be—an implacable, desperate force.

It is the alien, that monster, the vampire of fatality which can emerge and become overwhelming and yet some how banal, insisting "we have to leave."

Emma lost sight of her future in the lights and reflections of visionary Venice, that historic opulence. The Guggenheim Museum poised on its deep shadowed canals.

Everyone in this room longs to have entered your despair, to reclaim it, to tame that undertow--to deny you could die--to snatch you back.....with us....of us.


"Talking with Nona at the time of her mother's death, we realized that as the literal daughters of the second wave—my  mother being Susan Bee, —we had a responsibility for the legacy we inherited: to keep the memory of our mothers, and feminism, alive."

"The woman underneath the clothes and behind the skin remains a mystery to us and to herself. The perfect projection of the internal imagined self, if it exists, only does so for the duration of the photographic performance."

"The way we understand influence and imitation must be revised. This time the art world's marketable revolution and glossy politics must be cracked open from the inside and out. Let feminism be an amorphous conceptual cloud that floats over women's ideation and visual experience--and that brings us together instead of partitions us off from one another."

Quotes from Emma Bee Bernstein's essay (panel presentation "Beyond the Waves: Feminist Artists Talk Across the Generations" at the Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, March 2008)


Emma said, "How about  more bright colors! Some really outrageous stockings! Shouldn't you all have a party!"


... and we ask helplessly over and again how could we turn back this tragic loss …demanding more insight ...

Charles sent an e-mail photo of Emma, lovely with his caption: “We were on Herring Cove Beach. I asked Emma about the conflict between art and fashion, but the wind drowned out my question.”

—Carolee Schneemann