daniel burkebirds

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To me art is about...


Usually there is a visual stimulation of some sort that generates an intrigue; beckons an investigation.


The study of observations. This is done concretely; it is the hours upon endless hours of photographing, drawing, making, and painting particular things and objects...not thinking about them but getting to know them thru art...acquiring them thru obsession, patience, or perhaps homage.


Searches narrow into areas of concern. What the piece will be about. More things to be made.


Once I have enough stuff, I begin to organize. For pieces intended for wall display, I work in layers from wall face into the viewers' and back to wall. I use Velcro, push pins, tape, pegs to hang things on, shelves, or whatever when placing and arranging. Rearrangement is constant. Change always possible (see "Spillway with Birds"). For assembled paintings , I usually limit myself to about an inch of depth; work on a wood substrate; use a layering approach; and frame under plexiglass (see "Kitchen Mice").


I use scaled models, photos, and diagrams to plan various arrangements to fit specific sites.


"Variations" was the title of a recent show that I had. It's naming attempted to convey in a word my current art concerns.

This booklet is that exhibition's record; I have simply edited and added some additional I look to colors, shapes, rhythms and patterns that guide me to concerns of fragility, information to bring it up to date. improbability, imagination, abstraction, and change. However, I've noticed that increasingly my work relies on reclamation, recycling, and the reuse of materials. These This revision includes a checklist; an artist statement; a resume; a biography; and some current concerns have entered my aesthetic but were not really chosen as paramount to images of the original show and of more recent work. the art. There is a dawning consciousness of their importance.

Recycling and Reclamation. In "Arrivals" the individual bird forms are made of cut out, recycled, painted boards. I use varied surfaces from common game boards as Monopoly, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders; to garage sale paint by numbers panels; to old BINGO cards; and to illustration boards with old painting studies underneath.

After doing 20 or 30 drawings of the wild grape vines in our woods, the idea occurred to use the "real." Dead vines were saved, painted and mounted on PVC pipe. "Habitat" needed characters. I used my old paint encrusted palettes and cut from them the bird shapes. The palettes were then also used as nature's birdhouses.

Ideas sometimes present themselves from the material itself. My "No Book Ends" is a playful interpretation of how childrens' books can take off from their bookshelf and then give birth to fly-away birds made from their pages.

There was something that intrigued me about the servile ironing board. I bought about ten of them at thrift stores and simply had them in the studio. Coupled with a book club reading about slavery the idea arose of them being platforms or stages and finally into "Slave Ships. " The resulting work is a short essay on the slave trade using customary domino birds as central characters. The bird forms are cut from layers of wood, which become the decks on the ironing boards.

The left over becomes the piece. The work may involve the purposeful use of all the material used in the production. I needed various parts for my assemblages, installations, and displays. I hit upon the notion of cutting out the shapes from a larger shape—a gate form. "Twenty-four Gates" is a wall filled with cut-out wooden garden gates showing a variety of my motifs being used as patterns. Everything from birds to falling cats to musical instruments to rats in mazes is featured waiting to be made in cast iron.

Change and Variation. Rearrangement is possible in all of the works. I use Velcro to enable me to move parts around as in "Spillway with Birds"; "Topography with Birds"; and "City Night with Birds"; and clothespins on the backsides of others as in "Habitat with Birds"; and on stands as in "Bird Studies Display." At times I use assembled sections as in "Afterfire with Vessels." All that remains of the moveable parts are the three moveable sections on the surface in "Afterfire."