Jean Burdick’s first serious splash in the world of art occurred at age 10, when she won a national contest advertised in a Lancaster, Pa., newspaper.
The real reward came, however, when her generous Uncle Sidney went to one of the finest art supply stores in the area and bought his niece pastels and art supplies.
Jean was 13 when Sidney Burdick and his wife, Lucille, died in a 1965 plane crash in Peru. “Everybody was so fond of him. It is a big deal when someone perishes in a plane accident, and it was a big event in our family,” said Burdick, a resident of Yardley, Pa.
Recently, Burdick had the chance to honor the 50th yahrtzeit of her aunt and uncle by donating two of her own signed and numbered prints for the lobby of Yeshiva University’s Morgenstern Residence Hall on its Wilf Campus.
The prints, titled Dual Shadows and Trailing, now adorn a building whose lounge was dedicated to the Burdicks in 1965 by her aunt’s mother, Theresa Felsen.
The impetus for Burdick’s donation was in part the family dinners where, since her father’s death in 2012, they share memories of him. She felt an obligation to find a way to remember her childless uncle.
“If we don’t keep the memory alive of our aunt and uncle, there are no children to do that,” said Burdick, a member of Har Sinai Temple in Pennington.
She sent YU several pieces that she thought would be appropriate, based on her experience placing her work in corporate and healthcare venues and private settings. The university made the final choice. Burdick reinterprets botanical images using techniques that allow her, as she wrote in her artist’s statement, “to repeat patterns and forms that create new, implied, and unexpected relationships.”
A native of Pennsylvania, Burdick earned a bachelor of fine arts in painting with a minor in art education from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and later a master of fine arts in painting as well as a master’s in art education from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
After graduating from Pratt, she taught in New York City. She attended the School of Visual Arts and the Fashion Institute of Technology to develop her textile-design portfolio. While teaching in New York, she freelanced for about 12 years, mainly working on women’s apparel.
Burdick taught for 32 years, including three years in Hamilton Township and 22 in West Windsor-Plainsboro, running the gamut from elementary to high school. She also taught some adult workshops.
Four years ago she retired to pursue her artwork full time. She sold 27 pieces to Capital Health Hospital in Hopewell and 12 to University Medical Center of Princeton. She has shown her work in solo and group shows and is an associate member of the 3rd Street Gallery in Philadelphia.
Since retiring, Burdick has also trained as a docent with the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., where she gives tours and teaches in their special programs. She was also an artist in residence in the Central Bucks School District this past spring.