Richard Burke grew up in central Oregon and the Flathead Valley of Northwest Montana. From early childhood he was absorbed with discovering and drawing everything in the natural world. Because Richard had several family members who explored falconry, some of his earliest memories include kestrels and red-tailed hawks. Richard was always captivated by birds of prey and the grace of flight. Likewise, the beauty, tranquility and drama of the mountains and forests have always drawn him.
Considered a self-taught artist, Richard’s formal education was in Religious Studies. He worked as a minister for almost two decades, but he continued painting, carving and sculpting in every available moment. For years Richard carved decoys for Ducks Unlimited and captured many bird species in wood sculpture. Eventually it became clear that his passion for art was deserving of a more prodigious effort. It was his desire to focus on sculpting wildlife and painting landscapes fulltime which pulled Richard away from all other pursuits. Currently, he is fully dedicated to the process of creating work in his studio in Douglas, Wyoming.
Richard long appreciated the work of Auguste Rodin and Edgar Degas. Contemporary artists such as Steve Kestrel and Greg Woodard have also served as sources of inspiration. As a sculptor, Richard’s work is almost exclusively concerned with avian form. Working in a variety of materials such as stone, wood and bronze he depicts birds balanced, at rest and watchful. The posture and gesture of the subject is usually the concept. Often the perched bird is caught glaring over a shoulder with a look of distain, as if interrupted. His most current work strives to expose the characteristics of the materials utilized in the process. Many of these later subjects are owls which lend themselves to human like expressions and poses. Whereas a great deal of Richard’s earliest work was subtractive sculpture, bronze sculpture has been the focus of 2020. The ability to add and subtract is freeing for the creative process, but working in clay is also easier on the body. Therefore, it is an attractive option in preparing for a lifelong career as an artist.