Christopher Burk’s “Illuminating the Everyday
at Springfield Museum of Art


Christopher Burk, Connected—Columbus, Harrison West I, 2016 Oil on panel 8″ x 10″

By Sarah Monroe

When we look back at the great artists of our past, such as Claude Monet, Edward Hopper and even Bob Ross, we appreciate their eye for and their interpretation of the world that surrounded them. Through their vision, we are transported to another era and shown a different perspective, even if it is in a land of pure make-believe. Who inspired these artists? What made them pick up a brush to capture a small dash in time, and when was it decided that they captured the voice of their generation? Who will be the artist to capture the voice of ours? Enter: Christopher Burk.

Christopher Burk is a Columbus-based artist who currently has an exhibit running at the Springfield Museum of Art, aptly named “Illuminating the Everyday.” His landscapes focus on what we see on a regular basis: jumbled power lines attached to beams of wood that were the totems of our youth, the broken and discolored concrete surfaces that we drive over, walk over and overlook as we move about in our day to day life. Burk’s use of blues move from a vibrant bright crystal sky, giving way to a sensual indigo dusk leaving his viewers captivated by our own world as the day sinks into night. With his innate attention to detail, Burk has not one branch go unnoticed, nor is there a reflection in a pane of glass missing and there is no shadow unaccounted for. Do we stop to notice all of the beauty that surrounds us the way he does? I asked Erin Shapiro, Curator at the Springfield Museum of Art, just what it is about Burk’s work that strikes a chord. She says that Burk is “not only capturing the mundane aspect of it, but he was able to create this mysterious atmosphere and the compilation of the two create a
fertile territory.”

Christopher Burk studied at the Columbus College of Art & Design and the University of Akron, Myers School of Art. In 2017, he was a recipient of the Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. I had the opportunity to ask Burk some questions and when I inquired about what his art aims to say, he explained “For me, my work is about finding the overlooked elements and solitude in the urban landscape, and turning those specific things into moments of contemplation.” Although Burk could not pinpoint the moment he realized his love of the ordinary, he did say that as far back as he could remember “that’s just how I’ve interpreted the everyday.”

It has been nearly five years since Burk decided that he needed to follow his passion and make painting his career, but before he could get there, he did lose sight of what made his soul happy. “I took a rather long hiatus from artmaking. I like to refer to it as ‘my wasted years of potential creativity.’ I lived in New York City during this hiatus, and due to having to deal with the rat race in order to survive, I was drained creatively. All I really wanted to do was make art, but I had no motivation to do it while living in that environment. Miserable doesn’t even come close to explaining how unhappy I was, so I decided that in order to make my dream a reality of supporting myself as a creative, I was going to have to leave.” Burk searched to see what other cities could help fuel his creative fervor, but ultimately he re-settled in his hometown of Columbus.

After that, things just seemed to fall into place. Burk has held a handful of solo exhibits in Columbus and New York City, with more on the way. When a postcard from the Brandt-Roberts Galleries in Columbus came across the desk of Erin Shapiro of the Springfield Museum of Art, she fell in love with the image from Burk’s Stillness: Nocturnes series and reached out to him through the gallery. Within a few months the exhibit was underway.    

I asked Burk what brought him to this field of work. “As a child, we’re all artists, but for me it was always different. Drawing, painting, honestly making anything with my hands was something that had to be done, and is still true to this day.” When asked what is the best piece of advice he has received, Burk offered this quote: “Life is short and full of surprises. So, make more art and do not waste time.”

The Christopher Burk: Illuminating the Everyday exhibit will be on display in the Deer Gallery until July 1, 2018. The Springfield Museum of Art is located at 107 Cliff Park Rd, Springfield, OH 45504. More information can be found on their website, www.springfieldart.net

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Sarah Monroe, a native to the Gem City, is currently writing her first novel. Reach DCP writer Sarah Monroe at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com

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