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Artist Interviews: Deb Burke

Artist Interviews: Deb Burke

Deb Burke is an artist and social justice educator living in Portland, Oregon. She loves painting with oils on large canvases to explore what it means to be embodied and in relationship with the natural world. As a social justice educator, Deb utilizes narrative and stories, reflection and dialogue, and creative expression to support individuals and communities with increasing awareness about the effects of oppression and privilege on their own and other lives; emotional healing; and the nurturance of authentic relationships and community. Deb has been a participant in our Open Studio for Adults class, as well as instructing Explorations in Sketching and Beginning Drawing. We are excited to welcome her and her beautiful artwork to the blog today!

AMU: Art Makes Us ___.

Deb: Vibrant.

AMU: Tell us a little about yourself and your art. 

Deb: I live in Portland, OR with my dog (Eva), cat (Minmins), and hubs (Rob). I love to move and be out in the trees. I feel the world pretty intensely. I am irreverent. I value kindness and authenticity. I am continuously amazed by all that lives inside us as human beings and aim to make spaces for us to share that with one another. My art is visceral and expressive. I paint what I feel and I like to explore what it means to be embodied and a part of the natural beauty that surrounds me. I draw to connect with the world around me, deepen my attention, and feel enlivened. 

AMU: What’s your favorite medium?

Deb: I have three favorites -- graphite and charcoal; oil pastels; and oil paint

AMU: What inspires you?

Deb: Whatever captures my attention in the moment internally. I paint what I feel or imagery that comes when I meditate or walk in the trees. I am also inspired by the beauty of the world surrounding me and tend to want to draw or paint things unseen and tender, like organs of the body or fetal rats.

AMU: What are your artistic goals for the future?

Deb: To continue to explore drawing and painting, be in community with other artists, teach art, and show my work.

AMU: What is one piece of art advice you were given that has alway stuck with you?

Deb: You don't have to know what you're going to paint, just throw paint on the canvas and see where it takes you. Don't hold back. Make a mess. There are thousands of paintings and drawings in you, let them out.

AMU: If they made a film about your life, who would play you?

Deb: My first thought: Mark Ruffalo.

AMU: What famous artist would you love to meet?

Deb: I went to a gorgeous exhibition of the work of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O' Keefe, and Emily Carr called Places of Their Own at the Vancouver Art Gallery in British Columbia. I would love to meet the three of them and just listen as they talked about their lives and work as women artists.

AMU: What do you wish you knew when you started?

Deb: Paint and draw as often as you can whether you are in the mood or not, and intentionally protect time for drawing and painting.

AMU: What’s your favorite color?

Deb: When I was a kid it was yellow, now it's orange.

AMU: If you had an artistic superpower what would it be?

Deb: Self-compassion

See more of Deb's work on her website and follow her on Instagram. Learn about Deb's upcoming class Beginning Drawing here, and watch a short video about it below. 

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