How Slime Became A Signature Motif for Katherine Bernhardt

All images courtesy of Sloomoo Institute.
All images courtesy of Sloomoo Institute.

Katherine Bernhardt is taking her signature gestural iconography, which never fails to drip and ooze off her canvases, to a new level—a collaboration with Sloomoo Institute the stress relief-oriented art experience and online shop. 100% of the proceeds from the shared endeavor will benefit three mental health charities: Sad Girls Club, NAMI and Love is Louder.

Sloomoo Institute has legitimized the slime phenomenon by bringing it to an 8,000-square-foot space in SoHo while simultaneously making a pandemic-inspired pivot into ecommerce by specializing in soothing artisanal slime. Yes, slime. While kids are perenneally obsessed with the substance, the upheaval of recent years has led to its popularity among adults, who turn to the bizarre material in ever-increasing numbers as a form of stress relief. Now, the company is teaming up with Bernhardt for what they call their “dream collab.”

“We have always been inspired by art. It was a large part of what led our design process,” say Sloomoo founders Karen Robinovitz and Sara Schiller. The collaboration was born of serendipity—Bernhardt brought her son to visit Sloomoo right after it opened its doors in the fall of 2019. Robinovitz, already a fan of Bernhardt's large-scale technicolor dreamscapes, asked the artist if she might consider a partnership. But Bernhardt—heralded for her vivid canvases that vibrate with a cacophany of playful references to everyday objects—fruit, hotdogs, computers—and iconic retro characters—E.T., Garfield, the Pink Panther—wasn’t quite sure that her vision would translate into slime.

But she was soon convinced. “During the pandemic, Katherine posted an image of an ice cream popsicle she was eating," Robinovitz recalls. "It was shaped like a watermelon, and looked like one of her paintings had come to life.” DMs were exchanged. Both parties agreed that this could be the genesis of a perfect slime creation.

The result is Hot Summer Sandía, a feast for the eyes, hands, nose and ears. The new watermelon-scented slime, called "jelly," evolves in texture as it's handled. It's embellished with tiny black beads that resemble seeds, and accompanied by a small clay sculpture of a watermelon popsicle. 

“I found the popsicle at a cute tienda in Antigua. This slime is all about a love of watermelon, a love of the smell of watermelon, a love of the sticky summer feel of eating a watermelon, a love of the joy of eating ice cream in the summer, a love of the summer and a love of playing with gooey slime,” says Bernhardt, who quarantined in Guatemala.

Bernhardt painted several original works to accompany the release, which Sloomoo turned into labels and stickers. The limited-edition set (just 1,000 exist), retails for $24.50 and is available on the SlooMoo Institute's site