Bunny Burson

“...she moves from the intensely personal into the broadly metaphysical, and in doing so summons transformative powers...”
– Robert W. Duffy, STLBeacon

These works are both my journey and the embodiment of it. For many years I followed my daughter’s search to learn about my mother’s family. As she was finishing her work, I resolved to begin mine.

In the initial stages of formulating ideas, I literally stumbled onto what was to become the foundation of my work: a stack of letters dated 1939-41 in German. They had been sent to my mother after her arrival in the United States from her parents, as they fled Germany. The letters, hidden in plain sight in our attic for almost sixty years, tell the story. They evoke memories I could never have had…the names of distant cities my grandparents tried to reach, their guarded and unguarded thoughts, gestures of parental love and the second guessing of choices made.

As a printmaker I experiment with media, with multiple ways of making work, layering and altering the surface of the paper to convey information but also to provoke uncertainty. In this work I am exposing those layers, digging below to discover what is not evident on the surface. Printmaking media and the surfaces they are printed on provide a platform for building up and uncovering my images. Suggestive of a palimpsest, where earlier markings have almost disappeared, the works on vellum and translucent papers create a mysterious past. That past is seen through the prism of the letters and the letters themselves emerge through their temporal context.

The imagery is composed of fragments, glimpses of both what I imagined and what I ultimately found: keyholes, doorplates, shoes, chessboards and maps. Perhaps the most important discovery was the life and beauty in the writing itself. In repeatedly drawing and printing the lines of script, my hand became one with theirs. Their handwriting became my art.

Hopefully these works transcend my own journey. Through the visual processing of my grandparents' letters, I have sought to move from the personal to the universal and to stir the desire we all have to discover who we are through those who came before us.