Artist: Karen Burk

Karen Burk is the Head of Studio at The New Brunswick College of Craft in Fredericton. She is a hard lady to find images of, probably because she is busy teaching and creating. I attended a seminar given by here in 2008 a Surfacing Symposium at the Shadbolt Center for the Arts. She broke pattern down into manageable and tangible bits by sharing her process. She also stressed the importance of a sketchbook- something that I have come to use greatly. At the time of her demonstration she was making large kayak shaped vessels- funerary jars for her and her husband.  The two kayak every day and both wish to be put in pots and out in the forest buried shallowly in the dirt. As a potter I am very very moved by the funerary jars of many cultures and the intimacy of a pot and a person. Whether ceramic vessels be buried with the dead filled with preserves for the after life or a dish symbolically broken to set the departed’s spirit free I am intrigued. I am not sure if my recent reunion with my kayak or the Columbian funerary vessels I came across this year made me recall her work. I am sure Karen’s passion for simplicity and compassion for tradition and process are something her students benefit greatly from.

Click the photo above to see my photos from the symposium.

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