Internal drive fuels artistic creativity


Cindy Pantoja

Multi-dimensional art student Steven Bernt presents his multi-faceted artwork entitled “Growth” is presently being shown in the Eddie Rhodes Gallery in A-5.

By Cindy Pantoja, Editor-in-Chief

Contra Costa College students are known to strive for greatness, and artist Steven Berndt is no exception.

Berndt has always been interested in creating art out of different materials and combining color palettes.

“I’ve been painting for quite a while. When I was a child, I used to like airplanes and I just always loved arts and crafts, but I was never really serious about it until I got a little bit older,” Berndt said.

After losing his job when the gaming company Frontline Gaming moved to San Diego, Berndt refused to feel defeated and he decided to enroll in college courses at CCC.

“When the company moved away, it left this vacancy in me – I was used to being active and it left me feeling this artistic urge to make things all the time,” he said. “In the back of my mind, I knew I needed to find a way to be creative and that’s how I started at CCC in 2018.”

Berndt divides his time between working full-time as a bus driver, attending art classes during the day and painting for several hours at night.

“One of the things I like about driving a bus is that I have a lot of time to think about new projects and ways to improve my technique,” he said.

During Berndt’s time at CCC, he experimented with different media and after a year of artistic work, he had enough art pieces to fill a gallery.

Fine and media arts department Chairperson Anthony Gordon said Berndt is a multidimensional artist who combines his ability to build into his art pieces.

“He definitely shows up and brings a lot to the table. He takes the things we say to heart and then applies them to his assignments and we actually are able to see them get better,” Gordon said.

Artists often dreamed about exposing their craft in a gallery — however, this dream only comes true with great effort.

In Berndt’s case, he was able to create over 40 art pieces in almost two years – enough material to fill the Eddie Rhodes Gallery.

Gordon said, “We have a few students who show their work in the Rhodes Gallery every semester. It seems like a small room, but it’s hard to come up with a concept and fill up these walls.”

Berndt’s art exhibition is titled “Growth” and it showcases pieces in porcelain, genuine mix-media drawings and acrylic paintings that resemble his growth as an artist.

Media arts department assistant Michael Zephyr said Berndt’s artwork stands out because of his creativity and his attention to detail.

“He is a meticulous artist. He works slowly and he’s very precise,” Zephyr said. “He really takes his time with every piece.”

One of his most notorious pieces is a master copy of Guido Reni’s “Archangel Michael Defeating Satan” that took Berndt over 125 hours to complete.

“He is very dedicated, very talented and he has a lot of potential,” Zephyr said. “He’s one of those people who really wears his heart on his sleeve. He just shows up, he listens carefully and he asks the right questions.”

“I would love to be able to see his work a few years from now, especially if he does his showing somewhere else,” Zephyr said. “I would love to attend and see what he has to present. Some of the art that our students produce is absolutely remarkable.”

Emphasizing his attention to detail, once Berndt visualized the “Growth” gallery showing, it took him eight months to bring his vision to life.

Every piece is presented with an essay-like description that would bring to the audience the feeling of being in the art class when that certain assignment was given.

Fine and media arts professor Dana Davis said he usually sets up the galleries when students are ready to present their work, but in Berndt’s case, he was only there to assist him because he was ready to do the hard work.

“He came here with a plan. He had a specific order of how he wanted to put the art together,” Davis said. “I just did a little bit of fiddling to get them to look right on the wall. Setting up the gallery took pretty much three hours of work.”

The exhibit will be available for viewing at the Eddie Rhodes Gallery in A-5 for two more weeks.