Tanya Donelly

Founding member of Throwing Muses, the Breeders, and Belly

When you walk into my friend Louisa Bertman’s studio and see her work surrounding you, it feels like you’ve walked into the middle of a great conversation or party. Her pieces seem to be looking back at you, each face and figure full of life and attitude, each with something to say. There’s a story sparking on every canvas. Her work with the human face -- her ability to catch and portray the micro-expressions that bridge one emotion to another -- suggests movement, and the result is very beautiful and real, in a style very uniquely hers.

Also, she is funny. She has a natural talent for blending humor and substance, and she’s not afraid to take risks in this. This is evident in both the personal and topical sides to her work, from her commissioned portrait pieces to her more sociopolitical statements.

Louisa and I are in the process of writing a graphic novel together -- she illustrates, I write the text -- and she is a generous and inspiring collaborator. Each frame that she sends me in correspondence to what I’ve written ends up saying so much more than my words have, and inspires and informs what comes next.  It’s been a privilege to get some insight into her process: she is extremely thoughtful in each step, but at the same time, her work flows prolifically -- the product of a rich and varied visual imagination in combination with a very strong work ethic.

Her graphic style lends itself naturally to animation, and it makes sense that the implied movement in her work would lead eventually to actual movement. As one of Louisa’s fans and admirers, this is something I look very much forward to seeing...

Thank you,

Tanya Donelly Singer/songwriter and guitarist
(founding member of Throwing Muses, the Breeders, and Belly)

Reena Evers

Civil rights activist, Daughter of Myrlie & Medgar Evers

Last year our family commissioned Louisa to create individual portraits of my parents’ Myrlie and Medgar Evers.  This past summer, we received my mother’s artwork and to say we were at a loss for words would be a huge injustice.

    How do I describe the feelings in the room when we unveiled this incredible work?  Awestruck and amazed that Louisa totally presented various parts of her character. My mother is a beautiful, warm, proud, vivacious, regal, astute, brilliant, generous woman with a magnetic personality.  I couldn’t have imagined how Louisa would capture the essence of her entire being in one single image.  She couldn’t have done a better job even if had she known my mother at least as many years as I have. It was magnificent.

    I know Louisa is nervous about her ability to take on the daunting task of capturing the essence of such an important figure in American history –my father.   But to date, my experience with Louisa has far exceeded my expectations.   I have no doubt she will not be satisfied until she has succeeded in our eyes and in hers.

    This woman is a perfectionist who leaves her ego at the door.  Her creativity is as effusive as her sincerity and warmth.  I know that the latter qualities aren’t what matters in writing this recommendation, but I believe they are intimately connected to her humanity: to why she is able to see beyond the physical into the hearts and souls of others and is why she is able to covey this in her portraiture.  Humanity is a necessity to successful creative expression.  Louisa Bertman is a perfect candidate for your graduate program and will be a great asset to the School of Visual Arts.


Reena Evers-Everette

Suzanne Hanser

Ed.D., MT-­‐BC Chair, Music Therapy
Department Berklee College of Music

This is a letter of recommendation for Louisa Bertman. I invited Ms. Bertman to illustrate my recently published book, and her many illustrations and cover design created a publication that I am very proud to share with others.

My book is titled, “Manage Your Stress and Pain through Music,” and I was seeking depictions of individuals who demonstrate various emotional states to enhance the instructions and activities described in the text.  I also required pictures that showed how musical engagement changed these emotions. As is obvious, these were most challenging tasks for an artist. 

Louisa chose people of various ages, ethnic backgrounds, and features to highlight in each illustration. Somehow she captured not only the many moods and changes associated with musical activity, but she also found a way to express the movement and energy that music generated for each person.  She translated the mostimportant elements of the book’s message without using a single word.

Ms. Bertman’s contributions were so impressive that the publisher asked her to design the cover.  I could not have asked for a better product, and am grateful to have found Louise Bertman. She is not only a talented artist, but in addition, a creative soul, and a well-­‐rounded individual who believes steadfastly in art. She will surely continue to make great artistic contributions to our society with additional training at your institution. 

Very truly yours,


Suzanne B. Hanser, Ed.D., MT-­‐BC Chair, Music Therapy Department Berklee College of Music