A dusty country road and U.S. 69 meet in Louisburg, Kansas, to form a corridor around Jacob Burmood's “sculpture farm,” as he likes to call it.
Burmood, a sculptor and 2013 University graduate in ceramics, owns the 15 acre plot of land, symbolically situated at the intersection of nature and art.
This clash of the remoteness of the country and clamor of cars leaving the city illustrates the similar notion of finding modern art in such a natural place.
Burmood has had his art showcased all across the country, everywhere from the Leopold Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri, to the streets of Los Angeles. Burmood’s mediums include aluminum and bronze, resin sculpture, ceramic sculpture and most recently, drapery, which explores the flow of fabric.
“It’s a flexible field that illustrates the energy that flows through it, that otherwise we couldn’t see,” Burmood said of his drapery work.
Burmood recently received a grant from ArtsKC, a fund which makes grants to artists, arts organizations, and arts programs throughout the KC region, for his work with casting draped cloth into bronze. The grant gives him access to more of that bronze, a material that does not come cheap for most sculptors.
In his artist statement on his website, Burmood, now 36, recounts his childhood hobby of “walking along a creek that had carved its way through a wooded area” in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri.
“I think that my childhood and my upbringing had a big role in determining my interests as an adult,” Burmood said. “This stream was constantly changing, and it was changing the landscape of the area that I would explore.”
The interconnectivity between the stream and surrounding ecosystem instilled a “sense of deep harmony and simplicity” that Burmood said he seeks to convey in the elements of his art."
"Form was something I was always very responsive to, and not just the form of an object, but the form of a landscape," he said.
The woods behind Burmood’s childhood home was also where he first started crafting, starting with simple forts and bows and arrows. Even though he said he didn’t always think it was something that could “earn [him] a living,” sculpting was something Burmood always did.
Throughout high school, Burmood took art classes, before ending up at his hometown school of Missouri State University.
“I didn’t immediately know what I wanted to study,” Burmood said. “Once I did decide for sure that I was going to study sculpture, I didn’t want to leave.”
When Burmood spent time as an adjunct professor in design at Missouri State and making ceramic sculpture out of his home-turned-studio, Burmood also delivered pizza. Working part time jobs helped fund Burmood’s creativity, and his eventual master's degree.
When recalling applying for graduate school, Burmood said that he, “applied to eight schools and got rejected from all of them.” But, obstacles are something the sculptor has become used to.
“Rejection is one of those things that is a constant in the art world,” Burmood said.
Four years after undergrad, and with encouragement from his father, Burmood decided to apply to graduate school again. This time, to the University of Kansas.
“I was told that they had a good program, and I knew that they had a foundry, so I was interested in studying bronze casting,” Burmood said.
As fate would have it, Burmood was delivering a pizza when he learned of his acceptance to the University.
In his time at the University, Burmood was challenged by his professors, something he says helped evolve his work.
“They didn’t let me rest on my laurels," Burmood said. "They didn’t congratulate me for my successes. They criticized my weaknesses. It was basically like art boot camp."
John Hachmeister, an associate professor in visual arts, recalled Burmood's work ethic during the sculptor's time at the University.
"Jacob was very productive and effective in creating artwork," Hachmesiter said. "He had a singular vision for what he wanted to achieve and he just kept working and working with various materials until he succeeded."
The arts scene in Lawrence was also something that pushed Burmood through his years at the University. The sculptor described the community as “all Bohemia and no Babylon.”
Since last fall, Burmood has been an adjunct professor of sculpture at Johnson County Community College. As an adjunct professor, he stresses to his students the importance of incorporating their own interests into their craft.
“Typically when you take a painting class, you’re going to be dealing with paint," Burmood said. "If you take a ceramics class, you’ll be dealing with clay. In sculpture, it can be anything, and there is literally nothing outside the scope of sculpture.”
— Edited by Ashley Hocking