Community Muralist and Teaching Artist

Bernie Wilke

Bernie's work as visual artist centers around creating large-scale community murals, teaching, and studio artwork. His vision is to continue to utilize the power of art to strengthen communities and cultivate personal and societal wellness through beauty and collaboration.
Golden Wind

Located at the busy intersection of High and Fayette Streets in downtown Morgantown, Golden Wind shows a vibrant gathering of people following their creative passions. They are all touched by a yellow orange ribbon that weaves through Morgantown with its rolling hills and buildings. The hot air balloons reference the annual hot air balloon festival in town.

Golden Wind 18 x 20 feet acrylic on polytab 2022

Recent Mural Projects

KENetic Renaissance: Building on the Past

Detail image showing some of the local nonprofit agencies inside the New Ken letters

Memorial portraits of Brian Shaw - police officer killed in the line of duty; Eddie Adams - Pulitzer Prize winning photographer; Stephanie Kwolek - inventor of Kevlar

The town of New Kensington, 18 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, is seeing a resurgence after many years of deterioration and blight. Fueled by building renovations, a brewery and other new businesses, outside investment, and community mural projects, the outlook for New Ken is bright. I joined with CARP (the Community Arts and Restoration Project) and community leaders to complete this 35 x 64 ft. gateway mural at the entrance to downtown New Kensington.

Over 100 local residents contributed to both the design and the painting of this mural, which shows aspects of New Ken's history like the aluminum and steel industries. The design also features 10 detailed portraits of current and past New Ken residents that represent the positive changes happening in town.

Carina & Tommy West, instrumental in the establishment of the New Kensington Arts Center

KENetic Renaissance 35 x 64 ft. acrylic on polytab 2021

Baptismal Hands

Eastminster Church in Pittsburgh, PA asked me to do a mural for the baptism area in the sanctuary that shows the cross-cultural mission of the church. The design shows the living water from Jesus poured out and filtering through open hands down to the baptismal font at the bottom.

Baptismal Hands 20 x 7 ft. acrylic on polytab 2022

Building and Growing Together

Over 40 people contributed to the creation of Building and Growing Together for Eastminster Church in Pittsburgh, which reflects the co-working and cross cultural nature of Eastminster's ministry. The design shows people offering pieces to construct the church building on the left, which shows aspects of Eastminster's iconic architecture.

The figures on the left are made with both glass mosaic tiles and paint. The hand on the left holds a plexiglass mirror that suggests everyone can see themselves reflected in the mural, and are part of the vision and mission. Isaiah 58:10-12 winds through the sky, guiding the figures in the mural as it inspires the mission of Eastminster.

Building and Growing Together acrylic, glass mosaic, and mirror plexiglass on polytab 9 x 33 ft. 2019

Recent Studio Work - Innerscapes

My recent paintings feature bold colors and strong contrasts to show life, space, and energy inside physical bodies. The work reveals vibrant spaces beyond the surface of the skin to show the vitality and connection that exists deeper inside us. Unseen sources of light pervade the internal areas of the body, alluding to an expanse of space and bioluminscence that suggests a larger, potentially healing perspective in the midst of carnal pain.

Seeing beyond surface appearances has always come naturally to me. Part of my practice as an artist is to look deeply at everything, myself included. Looking deeply at the frailty and fragility that we all share reveals a beauty that exists both in our vulnerability and in our journey of inner growth and healing. The Innerscapes series illuminates the inner life inside us, while showing the interconnectedness we inhabit.

Light Revealed Acrylic and Spray Foam on Polytab cloth 60 x 33 in. 2023

Light Revealed (detail)

Inner Sense (self-portrait) Acrylic on canvas 22 x 28 inches 2019

Determined Synapses Acrylic on Polytab cloth 4 x 6 feet 2019

Luminescent Oil on canvas 14 x 18 inches 2023

Inner Expanse Oil on Polytab cloth 8 x 10 inches 2019

Illuminated Ribcage Oil on canvas 16 x 20 in. 2023

Pulse (Healing Wound) Acrylic on Polytab 88 x 60 inches 2023

Memory of the Skin: Beyond Pain Acrylic, gelatin, glycerin on polytab cloth 5 x 8 feet 2020

Incubation Oil on polytab cloth 8 x 10 inches 2018

Memory of the Skin: Beyond Pain (detail)

Banded Together

digital painting 2021

Theology of Pain Acrylic and plaster on drywall with looping video 6 x 8 feet 2018

Baptism Acrylic and spray foam with slowly dripping iodine water 4 x 16 feet 2018

Farther In Acrylic on canvas 20 x 16 inches 2017

Sunset - Lake Erie digital painting 2023

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