Henrietta Berk was born in Wichita, Kansas on January 9, 1919. Her family moved from Wichita to San Francisco when she was a young child. Berk was abandoned by her father and left at an orphanage by her mother. She turned to painting as a child to heal her trauma and forge independence. Berk graduated from the Polytechnic High School in San Francisco in 1936 and attended San Francisco State College and the California College of Arts and Crafts in the 1950s where she studied with Richard Diebenkorn and Harry Krell. Berk is known for her bright colors and a unique combination of figurative and abstract elements. Berk became linked to the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Her work has been exhibited in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Oakland Art Museum, De Young Museum, Crocker Art Museum, Hilbert Art Museum of California Art, Telfair Museum of Art, and at the U.S. Embassy in Peru.