By Kendra Loh
Most people look at unwanted objects lying around and see them as trash. David Burke, artist and professor of theater at Union, sees them as art.
Today is the last day to view Burke’s artwork in the gallery at the Ned R. McWherter West Tennessee Cultural Arts Center in downtown Jackson. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The show is titled “Reclaimed, Repurposed, Rediscovered.”
“The title of the show not only describes my art but also my life,” Burke said. “God gave me a second chance when He took me from the ‘gutter most’ to the ‘uttermost.’”
Burke repurposes throw-away materials and transforms them into objects of art. Some of his artwork, such as the “Divine Series” and “Christo Box,” are made of twigs, wood and thorns which are arranged and painted.
Burke also uses geometrical shapes along with a variety of colors to highlight his art.
“I love to repurpose found objects and give them new life,” Burke said. “My love of collecting and refurbishing objects has led to my first gallery show.”
The opening reception earlier this month attracted about 35 family members, friends and students. Burke submitted more than 20 pieces of art to exhibit throughout the gallery, and they are all for sale.
Burke said he will use any proceeds to conduct a Bible conference in Ethiopia.
Burke collects objects such as glass pieces and combines them with colorful beads to form a curtain. He also found glass and marble pieces and made them into furniture.
He is especially fond of making objects of art that symbolize his faith and beliefs, such as his icon piece, “God’s Footstool,” which is based on a biblical reference about Jesus making the Earth his footstool.
Burke also created the “Christo Box,” a small wooden box covered with sharp, red thorns that contains a painting of Jesus.
Burke described this piece as a reminder of God’s power and how humans “want to get closer to see it, but not too close.”
Burke was inspired to start creating art when his daughter became interested in purchasing artwork at a local store. Burke then realized he could create something similar and have fun with it.
He said he finds inspiration in daily life and in interaction with others.
As the director of Union’s theater, Burke has directed more than 70 plays, including classics, contemporaries, comedies, tragedies and musicals.
“Having been involved in the theater for over 40 years, I know about discovery, creativity and inspiration,” Burke said. “I took my technical know-how and applied it to the fine arts.”
Burke added that his work resulted in a discovery of gifts that had lain dormant for a long time. He said he enjoyed painting, drawing and working with clay when he was young but did not spend much time honing those skills as he grew older.
He said he believes God can use art to help people see the Gospel clearly and to adjust their perspectives in life.
“I believe there is strong power in all forms of expression,” Burke said. “Art can be a form of communication and provide a point of focus for us.”