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Artist of the Month

Folk artist Burke uses a
technique lost in today’s world

Her hobby has turned
into a lucrative passion

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (November 2012) – Obsessed with art since she was a young child, Rebecca Burke has taken this fascination to a new level through the artisanship of book-making. She makes each distinctive piece with the utmost care and treats it as if it were the very last book she would ever make.
“I love to journal, and it was fascinating to me to actually create a vessel for this outlet on my own instead of buying one from a book store,” said Burke, 31. She has been working in this medium since the spring, a hobby that quickly turned into a passion for this Oldham County native.

Rebecca Burke

Photo provided

Oldham County
artist Rebecca
Burke has turned
book making into
an art form.

“I find the process of making a book soothing, especially the sewing aspects. It’s like quilting, except I am piecing together paper instead of fabric. There is a quietness to it, and one must focus, or one can make a costly mistake.”
Burke will display her talents this month in La Grange, Ky., having been selected as the November “Artist of the Month” at Gallery 104 on Main Street. The gallery is operated by the Arts Association of Oldham County. A “Meet and Greet” reception is scheduled from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24.
Burke began her book making career by taking a class during a seminar at Locust Grove. This past summer she took a more formal class with Cathy Shepherd at Preston Art Center in Louisville.
“After that class, my book making really took off,” Burke said.
Many different things inspire Burke when creating her artwork. Inspiration can be attributed to the idea of “the end result of a beautiful book,. Sometimes it can be turning glorious Japanese papers into functional workhorses. Sometimes it can be the desire to please a certain someone.”
Kathy Dowling, executive director of the arts association, said of Burke, “Rebecca is one of our newer artists who just juried in July 2012.”
Dowling described Burke as “a graphic artist who also creates folk art in the form of handmade and hand-bound books. Her designs seem “oriental inspired, giving them a light and spiritual essence.”
Dowling continued, saying, “We are so happy to have her beautiful works here and to have her talents as a volunteer.”
Burke volunteered to be the Digital Committee Chairperson and help create promotional posters, graphics and update the arts association website. Burke is scheduled to teach a bookbinding class at Gallery 104 beginning in January 2013.
Burke said her artwork is unique because “it utilizes techniques that are lost in the modern world.” Both her Western and Japanese book-making techniques hearken as far back as the 15th century. The journals she crafts in the Western style are hand bound and use delicate, beautiful Japanese papers on the covers. The notepads she crafts in the Japanese style have modern colorful cardstock covers.
“Each piece is small, affordable and is the only creative paper art at Gallery 104,” said Dowling.

Burke Art

Many project opportunities have come her way. Burke continues to work as a contract freelance graphic designer. This year she designed the front and back cover of “A Hidden Madness,” as well as the interior content. This memoir was written by James T.R. Jones, a law professor at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.
Jones said he was extremely pleased with the visual concept of the book that Burke created. “Rebecca did an excellent job helping me get my book put together. I couldn’t have done it without her help.”
Jones knew Burke had the experience under her belt that he was looking for and asked her to take on the project. “I strongly recommend her to any author who wants the best packaging for his or her story,” he said.
Burke is a member of several professional associations in addition to the arts association, Others include the AIGA design group and the Louisville Graphic Design Association. She joined the Arts Association of Oldham County because “I believe in the promotion of the arts in every aspect throughout our hometowns. Art should be a part of everyone’s lives in some form or fashion.”

• For more information, contact the Arts Association of Oldham County’s Gallery 104 at (502) 222-3822.

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