Judith Burks     |      Encaustic Painter

About Judith Burks

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Judith Burks is a 1987 graduate of Tulane University with an MFA in painting.  She has been painting for 25 years, executing figurative work in oils, acrylic and encaustic. In addition to being a painter she has been deeply involved in art education in New Orleans, serving as teacher and arts administrator and artist in residence.  She is a life-long resident of New Orleans.  Currently she is adjunct professor at Lesley University, teaching a graduate-level studio course in Lesley’s national Creative Arts in Learning program.

Ninth Ward Survivor, 2006, encaustic on panel 18" x 24"

Judith is deeply interested in the emotional lives of her subjects and approaches each painting with an eye to creating not just a portrait of the physical being, but alsothe gesture and expression which reveal the essence of that being. Since the hurricanes of 2005 many of her paintings have been of the children of New Orleans.  She says,

Highslide JS
Ninth Ward Survivor, 2006, encaustic on panel 18" x 24"

“When Hurricane Katrina came through in late August 2005 I was teaching art to children in the public schools in the 9th Ward of New Orleans.  I evacuated to Atlanta and stayed there five weeks.  The schools were closed, all of the teachers were fired, and I never saw my students again.

When I got back to my New Orleans studio (also in the 9th ward, although not in a flooded area) in October 2005,  the front of the metal building was blown away, revealing the interior.  My studio was in the back, and still functional.  As soon as electricity was available, I  started working on a series of encaustic portraits based on  very casual photographs I had taken of my students  over the years  before the storm.  These photos are all I have left of them and of course my  memory and imagination about their lives now. The paintings  are memorials in a way, and part of my grieving process:  grieving for the kids, the loss of my way of life, and the continuing  uncertainty of recovery  in New Orleans.” 

Although encaustic is currently the medium she uses most, she has painted for years in oils and acrylics.  

New Orleans painter Judith Burks
Copyright© 2008 by Judith Burks, all rights reserved.