Friday, January 23, 2009

All Art All The Time

by, Jessica Burko of Reclaimed To You

photo above: Good Neighbors, mixed media paper quilt

People frequently ask me what I do when I am not making art. My quick answer is, make art. But this answer is actually pretty accurate when you consider how I make a living and that all the various things I "do" are either directly making art or connected to the making of art.

My fine art work consists of creating photographic mixed media, which loosely translated means that I combine photographs with other materials such as found paper, vintage photos, wood, thread, wax, wall paper, and other elements. The work I do of this type is rooted in the photographic aspects - the photos drive the rest of the combined parts. Most recently I have been working on a series of Paper Quilts which distinguish themselves from other collage-type work by their lack of adhesive and their construction only with thread. The parts are stitched as one would stitch a fabric quilt. I exhibit and sell my fine art work regularly at art fairs, Open Studios events, and in galleries.

photo above: Make Them Rustle, mixed media paper quilt

When not in the studio I can often be found working in textiles - knitting and sewing. I've been sewing pillows for many years and this past summer learned more about the craft and began making tote bags from reclaimed materials - fabric remnants, samples, old clothes, discards. In March 2008 I learned how to knit from Boston Handmade members Louise and Lynne and I took off like a rocket! I just can't stop. I've been knitting hats and scarves obsessively since then, and recently began a cardigan sweater and some small items for Valentine's Day that I've made into broaches. Most of the knitting I do is also with reclaimed materials - yarn from thrift shops, tag sales, remnants from projects, samples from textile companies. I was thrilled to begin selling my textile work This past winter at Design Hive and the Boston Handmade Downtown Gallery and now I have an Etsy shop for these items called Usable Goods.

photo above: Cranberry Scarf, wool, cotton and acrylic sideways scarf

The other type of work in the arts that occupies my time falls into the categories of Arts Marketing and Independent Curating within my business, Burko Design. I began curating exhibitions in 1997 while managing the photography gallery at Rochester Institute of Technology, and I continued this work as Director of The Cushing-Martin Gallery at Stonehill College.
photo above: announcement card from On Drawing

After leaving Stonehill in 2006 I continued curating and was honored last year to have a show that I worked on accepted into the Curatorial Opportunities Program at the New Art Center in Newton. The show, On Drawing, debuted in April 2008 and was very well received. Other exhibitions that are in process are called STITCH and Art as Medicine.

The other part of my work through Burko Design involves working closely with independent artists and arts organizations on projects large and small. I help artists and groups reach their creative and professional goals through brainstorming, networking, getting organized, reaching out to the press, and creating a plan of action tailored to their needs. Sometimes this involves speaking engagements such as the presentations I have given at MassArt and through the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, and sometimes it means working one-on-one in an artist's studio helping creatives achieve individualized goals. The clients I am working with most closely right now include weaver Claudia Mills, jewelry designer Karina Mattei, and printmaker Randy Garber.

photo above: A Block Weave Runner by Claudia Mills (photo by Jessica Burko)

In one way or another what I do is all art all the time, and I love it. It's this feeling that has propelled me to pursue other arts related activities such as coordinating Boston Handmade, participating in a weekly knitting circle, and volunterring with non-profit groups such as The Art Connection. Hooray for art!

1 comment :

  1. Hi Jessica. Yes, hurray for art, but also hurray for Jessica working hard on art!


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