was born in 1903 in Athens, Ohio. She studied at the University of Ohio, the Cleveland School of Art, the John Huntington School of Art, Western Reserve University and the New School for Social Research in New York. As an instructor of etching and lithography at the Columbus Museum School, she also wrote for the Ohio State Journal which brought her to New York City for an interview with the Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. It was there that she met his assistant and her future husband, Ben Shahn. Together they painted America at Work, the renowned mural at the Bronx General Post Office.

Bryson arrived in New York an accomplished lithographer whose work reflected the plight of working people during the Great Depression. She was a founding member of the Unemployed Artists Association, worked with the Graphics Division of the WPA, and organized a lithography studio for the Special Skills Division of the Resettlement Administration, and a graphics project for the College Art Association. She serves on the Board of Governors of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine.

Bernarda Bryson Shahn's first one-person exhibition was held at the Midtown Gallery in New York in 1983 followed by participation in a number of group exhibitions. She exhibited independently at the Whitney Museum of American Art Annual, the Cleveland Print Show and the Cleveland Print Club. She and Ben Shahn collaborated on mural projects in New York and Washington, D.C. Bryson worked as an illustrator for Fortune, Harpers and Scientific American, illustrated a number of novels, authored children's books and in 1973 completed a comprehensive book on the work of Ben Shahn.

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