Jessica Burko has been an exhibiting artist since 1985 and has displayed work in solo and group shows throughout the United States. Burko is originally from Philadelphia and currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She holds a BFA in Fine Art Photography from Rhode Island School of Design, and an MFA in Imaging Arts and Science from Rochester Institute of Technology.
In addition to being a practicing artist, Burko is the Program Manager at the Photographic Resource Center at Lesley University. She is also an independent curator with more than thirty exhibitions produced since 2000, and her professional background includes the position of Gallery Director at Stonehill College from 2000-06, from 2007-14 she held the position of Executive Director of the artist collective Boston Handmade, and from 2016 to 2019 she was the Marketing Director at Kingston Gallery.
Burko's work in the arts community allows her to foster and strengthen connections between working artrepreneurs. She supports artists in achieving their creative and professional goals through lectures, workshops, and partnerships with organizations such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass MoCA’s Assets for Artists Program and the Danforth Museum’s Professional Artists Workshops.
Get a glimpse of the Jessica Burko at work through these journalistic photographs by Boston photographer Brad Romano. Click HERE to view the photo essay.
Burko’s artwork has been seen in venues including the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, the Attleboro Arts Museum, the Danforth Museum, Samson Projects Gallery, and the Rochester Museum of Art (NH). Artwork by Jessica Burko has been published on the cover of Canadian writer Jenni Samprisi’s novel iswas and can also be seen on the set of Ben Affleck’s 2010 film The Town. Click HERE for a full CV.
The work begins in a traditional manner then embarks on a non-traditional journey. The result of this path is a change in how the photograph behaves in space, and how the viewer interacts with it. The image is no longer held behind glass, and begins to relate in a tactile way to those encountering it.
The original photographs in Jessica Burko’s mixed-media artwork are captured with a variety of 35mm and 120mm, positive and negative films, digital cameras, and the iPhone. The film images are digitized and printed with ink onto watercolor paper. The digital images are either printed with ink jets, or transferred onto reclaimed wood. For Burko's collage work, vintage photographs and ephemera are found in attics, basements, at yard sales and flea markets. The work is created by combining a variety of techniques including sewing, image transfers, and encaustic collage.
Encaustic is one of the world’s oldest and most archival art media. It is a combination of raw beeswax, damar resin and pigment. It is applied in molten form in layers, and fused at high heat. The word encaustic comes from Greek ‘enkaustikos’, which means 'to burn in,' referring to the process of fusing the medium. Encaustic has been used to ornament Greek ships, paint murals for ancient Roman homes, and was the medium of choice for the astonishingly life-like Egyptian mummy portraits, circa 200 BC. These portraits were painted from life on wooden panels and the state of preservation of these panels is a testament to encaustic’s durability.
Basic ancient encaustic techniques remain the same while it has become a very popular 21st century medium. Encaustic can be polished to a high gloss, carved, scraped, layered, utilized in collage processes, textured, and beautifully facilitates image transfers. It cools immediately so that there is no drying time, and yet because it can be reheated, it can always be reworked. Encaustic is a very durable artists’ medium because beeswax is impervious to moisture; it will not deteriorate, it will not yellow, and it will not darken. Encaustic artwork does not have to be varnished or protected by glass.