The Black Pearl



The Black Pearl© Durga Yael Bernhard

I painted The Black Pearl in 1993, in a time of my life when both Eastern spirituality and African culture were influencing my art.  The black pearl was a symbol of clarity, awareness, and tranquility, suspended at the mythical center of the universe.  Published in a calendar two years later, the caption for the image read: “Born of the innermost emptiness that surrounds it, the pearl is in mysterious relation to a stalking tiger and his sleeping consort. The tiger and the woman have broken through the complex weaving of time and space . . . a perfect union of strength and receptivity, motion and stillness, male and female, animal and human.”  I was fascinated at the time by the I Ching, and loved exploring the concept of duality in art.  I also strove to create a visual weaving of African rhythm.  Somehow all of this converged in a single image, painted in gouache on watercolor paper.

The flatness of black gouache paint is very satisfying.  The other colors, flat and earthy as colored clay, contrasted well with the dark background.  The white outlines are the white paper showing though – a technique I used often in my younger years.

The Black Pearl sold pretty quickly to my dear friend Deborah Jai Levy, who lives in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.  Deborah is also a blend of Eastern and Western influences, so the painting really resonated with her own spiritual journey as well as her practice as a healer.  I am extremely pleased and honored that she still has this painting on her wall . . . and the tiger with the sleeping woman on its back is still circling the black pearl at the center.

The Black Pearl - detail

You can order a greeting card or poster of The Black Pearl here.

A good week to all!


D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
LOVE ISNew! – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVENew!! Explore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
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