They say that art is an imitation of life and the world around us. If that is true, then local Birmingham painter, Mr. Jim Burnett, is expressing his view of the world through his artwork. A native of Birmingham, this local hero has had great success as an artist and continues to wow art lovers with his imagery. Artists create to start a dialogue between their work and the observer, usually regarding the state of the human condition. This sentiment is no different with the eclectic painter that I had the pleasure of speaking with recently about his works and what art really means in society. –christa e. jackson
Tell me about your background and how you became a painter.
I was born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., and went to school at the University of Alabama. I was a graphic design major, and I minored in painting. I graduated in 1975 and moved to New York for a few years and then came back to Birmingham and worked as a graphic designer for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for nine years. I also taught graphic design and painting at the university as well. A co-worker asked me about some of my paintings and wanted to purchase some pieces, and I started painting consistently from that point on.
Why did you decide to become an artist?
My desire is not to make money, even though that’s nice. My desire is to be fulfilled and to be good at what I do because, when I am gone from this earth, my artwork is all that will be left when I’m gone to represent me, and that’s why I chose art. I don’t paint for fads and trends. My work will hold up and live on.
What is an integral part of being an artist?
Artists hold up a mirror to society, and they prosper when the work they do is something that the culture likes. The way it perceives itself is that, if you want to prosper, you hold up a mirror to society, but, when you hold the mirror up and you show it as you see it, sh** happens.
How do you feel about artist Radcliffe Bailey and his exhibit that will be at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta?
I have never had the pleasure to meet him personally, but I like his work and think that people will enjoy the exhibit.