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christian burchard’s words and wood

Part of my process as I write the posts for DAM is to look for an artist’s words: words that add another layer of meaning to the work; words that reveal something about the artist’s life, philosophy or inspiration; words that explain or describe. Their words.

[nonmember]This archived post is for Members Only. Click here to become a member or to get a one day pass. If you are a member, please login to view the post. [/nonmember] [private_archives]Sometimes I come across an artist whose words move me as much as the art. Christian Burchard is an example of an artist whose words and wood share the same powerful, graceful beauty.

Song Of The Bones

“I have been working with wood for most of my life. We are comfortable with each other, have a close relationship and I value the connection immensely. I am curious what is inside, how it works. I am always looking for the gifts it has to offer.”

Tall Torso
more torsos here


“Like a lot of my other work, I use bleach to expose what is within. I compare this to Black and White photography: I remove most of the color to simplify, to focus on the structure and the undulations and textures that occurred through the drying process. Sometimes it feels obvious how a particular panel wants to be used, at other times it takes me a while to read it, feel it, ask what it wants from me, so that I can do my part.”


“I allow my relationships and my need for connection to flow into and inform the work. It is different now than it was ten years ago. There used to be lot of fear in my work, a rush to succeed and a fear of failing. Life has changed and I have slowed down, and my work has gotten simpler and quieter. The difference is that I am not looking for something new all the time. I have gained a deeper understanding of the wood that I am using, there is more breadth in our relationship. I have learned to trust the process, to give it the time and confidence it needs and deserves. That in turn is stretching my creative abilities, strongly affecting me and the work.”

The Bridge

At times I am awed by its beauty and the story of its history, the tracks that the passing of time have left. I am driven to expose this beauty, to make it shine. At other times I am more fascinated with its inner structure, its more subtle form and spirit.”

Fierce Angels

“To be working this closely with nature is a blessing, but also often overwhelming. It is a struggle. At times I find myself needing to put my foot down, to control the outcome of my work, only to find that I trampled something beautiful. At other times I feel overwhelmed, scared: what is needed of me here, how can I match the beauty of this living thing? How am I to know when to be loud and when to be quiet…? Maybe this stuff just matches my personality, something to wrestle with, something that stirs my imagination, something to control. That nature versus man made thing, that struggle, that tension, that conflict. My work is about my relationship with nature, my desire to connect with it on a deep level. Trying to get under its skin and be part of it. Searching, finding something sacred, adding my touch, wrestling with it. Showing the beauty of it under a different light: exposing, transforming. I make things out of a deep urge to create and out of a driving curiosity. I need to do it. I don’t really have a choice in the matter.”

Humble Beginnings of a Literary Dynasty
more books here

“I do take a lot of chances and I fail a lot. Many ideas just don’t turn out after all. I burn a lot of my work. It can feel at times as if I was holding a whole lot of strings and am weaving them together. I push and pull till it sings. And I am learning to ask more of the right questions, to set things in motion, set possibilities in motion. At times I am even patient!”

A Long And Winding Road

Burchard won the Society for Contemporary Craft’s 2009 Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize – SCC’s video about the artist brings us into his studio, gives a sense of scale to the sculptures and shows us the stature of the man – a joy to watch.


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2 Responses to christian burchard’s words and wood

  1. His words are refreshingly simple and from the heart. I wish more artists wrote in such a straight forward manner. As an artist sometimes I wonder if I’ve been missing out on a piece of the $ and fame pie because I don’t/won’t write the usual art twaddle that seems to be encouraged at universities and many gallery curators. This gives me the validation to keep on being brave/stubborn by speaking simply and from the heart.
    Thank you once again!

  2. Christian Burchard writes with great emotional impact and inspiration about his work. I was particularly moved by his discussion of “the rush to succeed and the fear of failing,” and connected with his expression.
    The description of “the push and pull of materials till they sing,” struck a chord. I understand what it’s like to hear the music.
    How extraordinary to know how to do the work, speak about it with such meaning, and connect with his audience. I stand in awe.

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