Bernarda Bryson (1903-2004) is the
epitome of the socially progressive artist. In 1933 she interviewed the
muralist Diego Rivera and met his assistant, Ben Shahn, to be her lifelong
LIZA KIRWIN: You worked as an illustrator for about twenty years?
BERNARDA SHAHN: Yes, easily, or longer. I worked for lots of other magazines.
I loved working for the Reporter. I did a lot for them. I
worked for Life a couple of times. Seventeen, anything – Those
three magazines were steady. It was most exciting to work for the Scientific
American. With the most wonderful and unwarranted confidence,
they believed in everything I did. It is a scientific magazine. I used
Doctor Einstein for research; I used Doctor Laudenberg, who was the
head of the math department at Princeton. Everything I did the Scientific
American seemed to think was great. Once when I did a story for Fortune,
I put a modern – one of those things they
blow up on your arm –
LIZA KIRWIN: To measure blood pressure?
BERNARDA SHAHN: Yes. In the picture. One of the editors said that this
is not what this thing looks like. I said, “This is a very modern
one.” Then I said to them, “Look, if the Scientific
American can accept my research, you can, too, can’t you?” [laugh]
You know you have those fights.
Smithsonian oral interview 1983
TRANSIENTS MAY 1953
WIVES NOVEMBER 1951
AUTO INSURANCE - BATTERED BY ITS OWN BOOM OCTOBER 1960