Valley Burke



Foreword To Exhibition Catalogue Feminine Visions, Zanadhu Gallery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 2010

By Glenn H. Mullin

The Tibetan word for “artist” is lha tripa, or “communicator of the sacred.” It is said that after a person achieves enlightenment his or her spirit merges into formless infinity, or dharmakaya, but that this infinity then manifests in the world of form as rupakaya in order to communicate the enlightenment experience to living beings of good fortune. That is to say, the energy of infinity flows throughout the universe and manifests in forms that uplift, guide and inspire.

One of the many forms it takes is as inspired artists and their artworks. The Tibetan word lha tripa signifies an artist who is both inspired by the spirit of enlightenment and is able to channel that universal energy into his or her work.

Valley Burke is just such an artist. I have known her for almost twenty years, and have been delighted to watch her grow both as an artist and as a great soul. How honored I was, almost two decades later, to be able to organize an exhibition of Valley’s paintings in faraway Mongolia, where I was engaged in the restoration of the house where the great Russian-born New York artist lived and worked in 1926 and 1927. Roerich was another of the great artists whose body of work certainly earned him the title of lha tripa, or “communicator of the sacred.”

As far as I know, this rare exhibit gave Valley the historic distinction of being the first New York artist to have a solo showing in the land of Genghis Khaan, whose heirs, especially Kublai Khaan, rank as some of the greatest patrons of the enlightenment arts in the history of the world. After Valley’s exhibit in the Zanadhu Gallery in Mongolia in July of 2010 it moved into the Roerich Museum and Art Gallery in Ulaanbaatar, where it will remain for the remainder of 2010.

Buddhists believe in something called tendrel, or “auspicious omens,” and I sincerely believe that this Mongolia exhibition, which was covered extensively by the national media in that country, is an auspicious omen signifying the success and importance that her work will achieve over the decades and generations to come, just as the name Genghis Khaan spread far beyond the borders of his country and the generation in which he lived.

In one of the press interviews that Valley gave in Mongolia she was asked how and why she became an artist. She replied that she had been born with a rare eye condition of extreme short-sightedness, and as a child could only see an arm’s length away. She soon discovered that everything for an artist happens within that arm’s length. She learned that the painter’s canvas was her perfect distance, the place where her eyes, mind and spirit came into perfect focus.  As a result, art became her secret world, the world in which her visual challenge became a virtual asset. I would add that because of this unique karmic situation, a great artist was born in the sacred mandala circle of a mere arm’s length in radius.

I am both honored and pleased to have this opportunity to write a foreword for this catalog of her recent paintings, and offer my aspirations that the wonderful images of love, laughter and enlightenment that she conveys on her canvasses will inspire and uplift all who have the good fortune to encounter them.