Durga Yael Bernhard was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and began painting at the age of 13. Her education is a mix of formal art training at the Art Students' League of NY, the School of Visual Arts, and SUNY Purchase; plus extensive independent study through travel to museums all over the U.S., Europe, and Israel.
Yael's artwork explores both personal and archetypal imagery through contemporary techniques. Her themes include birth and mothering, healing and transformation, animals and nature, family and community, myth and dream, ritual, prayer - and more.
Durga Yael is the illustrator of three dozen children's books and the author of nine – including fiction and non-fiction, natural science titles and multicultural folktales. Yael brings a variety of influences to her work, including a strong grounding in rhythm and design, and a lifelong passion for West African music and dance, the Jewish tradition, and the natural world. Her experience as the mother of three children and as a children's teacher of Judaics, Hebrew, and art have also shaped some of her most notable works.
Most of her illustrations are painted in gouache, while her fine art paintings are in oils and acrylics. She also experiments with natural materials such as birch bark, rice paper, and hemp fiber to create unique painting surfaces. Her work encompasses several different styles, and has been published on everything from book, magazine and CD covers, to business logos, brochures, websites, corporate promotion, educational textbooks, and work for religious and environmental causes. She is the author/illustrator of several picture books, including Fiddle Is a Song (Chronicle), To & Fro, Fast & Slow (Walker & Company), and Earth, Sky, Wet, Dry (Orchard). Durga lives in Shankaden, New York.
Yael lives in the Catskill Mountains of New York with her family. When she is not drawing and painting, she spends her free time hiking and foraging, gardening and cooking, dancing, drumming, and teaching.
Visit Durga online.