Monthly Event

My Journey From Landscape Artist to Environmental Activist

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Thursday, March 24, 2022

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM


Virtual on Zoom


My practice, at the intersection of art, science and the environment, is fueled by my concern of how climate change threatens all of humanity - from Siberia to Lytton to Bootleg.  Already, the world is suffering dramatically from extreme weather disasters such as flooding, heat and drought. Our planet’s ecosystems and species of all kinds, as well as indigenous communities  are threatened with extinction as they disappear at alarming rates.   I endeavor to bring this crucial issue to light through images rather than words. Rather than apocalyptical, I want my images to bring beauty into the conversation, to remind us all of the magic of the natural world. I endeavor to accomplish this by combining compelling images with visual prompts.  I like to call myself a “subversive artist”. 


But that is not where I began my career last century.  I began as a landscape painter, enthralled with nature and vast geological phenomena. It was only about 20 years ago that my attention shifted, when I began to focus on how our planet was threatened by its inhabitants….So I began to develop new visual strategies in an effort contributing my talents to being part of the solution.


This talk is about that journey.  It is about how I first gathered knowledge by reaching out to glaciologists and marine biologists.  How I conducted research though reading and visiting labs. And how that led to my bearing witness in the Arctic and Antarctic, and in the Pacific.


I continue to work in this vein, having recently expanded my investigations to issues of drought, forest fires and the Amazon RainForest.


Conflating my aesthetic instincts with my political beliefs has brought me more meaningful purpose at this critical moment before us.  Through my visual/emotional lens I hope to inspire awareness and action.



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Diane Burko

Born in Brooklyn, Burko graduated Skidmore College with a B.S. in art history and painting. She earned an MFA in painting at the University of Pennsylvania. Burko was a professor at Community College of Philadelphia from 1970 until 2000, also teaching at Princeton University, ASU, and PAFA. In 1974, she founded FOCUS: Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts. From 1976 to 2012 she was represented by the Locks Gallery in Philadelphia. She has been awarded residences in Giverny France, the Rockefeller Conference and Study Center at Bellagio, Italy and in Svalbard by the Arctic group. She has received 2 NEA Artists grants, 2 PA Council on the Arts Grants, the Lifetime Achievement Award by the WCA/CAA, an Independence Foundation award and the Fleisher Art Memorial.