Amanda Burnham makes drawings and drawing installations of her encounters with the city in ink and other water-based media on paper. She works on site, either out-of-doors or sitting in her car, interpreting the poetics of vacant lots, row houses, billboards, and signage. Pieced together fragmented drawings form collagelike constructions, alluding to the accumulations of the urban environment. Indications of the past crowd on top of one another in multiple layers. A mash-up of deteriorated buildings, vacant spaces, and old type enter into the gallery, accentuating the dislocation of narrative. Simple, individually drawn and displayed fragments combine into a chaotic installation. Burnham additionally employs paint, artificial turf, concrete, sand, and trash in the installation, resulting in a complex setting of real and imagined space. Burnham’s environments recall the Dada tradition of the Merzbau by German artist Kurt Schwitters who also understood the lyrical significance of urban trash. However, Burnham’s constructions differ in their specificity of descriptive detail supplied by the black and white drawings. Authentic materials such as sand and concrete further push the real world into her constructions, uniting ethereal paper constructions with tangible urban structure. The result of this amalgamation is a dramatic installation that both documents the natural rhythms of the city and whimsically analyzes its own aesthetic history. Burnham plays with the boundaries between drawing, sculpture, architecture, and urban design.
-J. Susan Isaacs, PhD
Curator of Special Projects