The National Sculpture Society (NSS) will present the Recognition of Excellence to Patrick Burke on Saturday, June 4 at its annual Honors and Awards Dinner, to be held in the Berkshires this year. The honor is given by sculptors of the organization in recognition of a fellow artist’s pursuit of beauty and excellence in sculpture and the skill by which they accomplish it. Burke is a sculptor in the European tradition who also works as an ornamental carver, designer, and furniture maker.
After high school, Burke found an apprenticeship in a small woodcarving village in the Italian Alps that specialized in figurative woodcarving. After his time in Italy, Burke returned home to Wisconsin, where he opened his own business. Atelier Burke’s projects range from residential new build and renovation, restoration, yacht interiors as well as reproduction work for museums and private collections. The majority of Atelier Burke’s work is woodcarving and design, but he also offers other services such as fine furniture, prototyping, sculpture in bronze, plaster, stucco, and resin. Working directly with a homeowner, or in collaboration with architects, interior designers, and contractors, Burke brings a wealth of knowledge of the history and styles of period ornaments and sculptures.
However, more impressive than his handiwork is the fact that Burke conducts most of business by word of mouth. NSS Elected Member, Emily Bedard, was one of the artists who learned of Burke’s talent through social media. As Bedard explains, Burke’s “high visibility on Facebook and Instagram, and his outgoingness to connect with other sculptors on these platforms, has made him a beacon in the community of traditional sculpture, and an inspiration to all. He is a wonderful example for young sculptors that through hard work and dedication, you can excel at your craft and create a thriving business doing what you love.”
His notable commissions include a Seal of the United States for the United States Embassy in Helsinki, Finland; Senate Throne Seats for the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa; curved mahogany pulpit panels for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI; and restorative woodcarving for the Clara Jessup Moore Mantel for the Berghold Vineyards and Winery in Napa Valley, CA. Burke is currently recreating H.H. Richardson Carved Panels and Columns for the Glessner Museum in Chicago with only a few black and white photos dating back to 1887 for reference.
In 1893 leading U.S. sculptors and architects founded the National Sculpture Society to “spread the knowledge of good sculpture” throughout the country. Founding members created most of this nation’s public monuments at the turn of the last century. NSS was incorporated in 1896 and received tax-exemption status as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1939. Professional sculptors and architects continue to lead the organization in fulfilling its mission today.