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Bernie Bernardo of LA Art Box on creating a space of representation

“We moved away from this life of not experiencing life,” that’s what Filipino-American Bernie Bernardo shared when asked how it was like moving to the US from the Philippines as a young girl. “It made us resilient. It made me resilient growing up as a young adult,” she shares, describing how their move taught her to be independent in many ways.

Decades later, though, Bernie found a way to reconnect with her Filipino roots. She put up the #LAArtBox together with her long-time friend Mar Dumlao, a passion project she said was inspired by his son, who felt disconnected with his Filipino heritage. “He didn’t see a lot of people who looked like him,” says Bernardo. She felt there was a lack of representation for her son, and that building a community that celebrates works of Filipinos–and people of color–you instantly “feel at home.”

The LA Art Box opened in October 2021 on #MelroseAvenue. “Outside of the Philippines, Los Angeles has the highest concentration of Filipinos. If we can break through with our storytelling here, it’s just easy to transition to other cities like San Francisco,” says Bernardo.

Learn more about her #immigration story and how it inspired her to put up a passion project to represent Filipinos through art.


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