One of the works that will be displayed in the exhibition Making their Mark: Illinois Women Artists 1940-1960 opening October 17, 2015 at Peoria Riverfront Museum.
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Selected Works of the Burnham Family Artists
Over the past century, the women of the Burnham family have established themselves as painters, etchers, toymakers, illustrators, writers, performers, art therapists and art teachers. Their artwork is vibrant and imaginative, their compositions always fresh, intriguing, often amusing.
Anita Willets Burnham (1880-1958) was the first to develop her artistic talents. She toured the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, saw the women artists' paintings and decided to become an artist. She trained at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1906, she hesitated when Alfred Burnham asked her to marry him. Could she be an artist and have a family? He persuaded her that she could.
Anita always said of her first daughter Carol-Lou (1908-1997) that she was "born with a paint-brush in her hand." With no trouble at all, Carol-Lou learned to draw...art-making was serious business in the Burnham household. She spent her life painting and teaching art.
In 1921 Anita decided her family of six should spend a year traveling in Europe. Her third daughter, Ann (1921-2001) was only nine months old. They toured and sketched and painted every day, often trading their sketches for food and other necessities. By the time they returned home, Ann was producing sketches, too. She continued to paint and later became an art therapist.
From 1928 through 1930, the family traveled in the Far East and again in Europe. When they returned Anita wrote a book about their travels called Round the World on a Penny, a lighthearted tour guide for family travelers. The Burnhams' artwork illustrates the book.
Today, Anita's granddaughter Jane Smith Bernhardt is a portrait artist, a trained actress and a writer. In 2003, Jane founded the Hibakusha Peace Project, a multimedia tribute to the survivors of Hiroshima. For more about her work, visit her website.
Anita's granddaughter Carol Dearborn explores the mystery and spirituality of the natural world with her oil, pastel and mixed medium paintings of landscapes. An activist for environmental sustainability, Carol also teaches Creativity and Shamanism, inviting students to open pathways to creation in all aspects of life. Learn more about her work at her website.
Enjoy the work of these wonderful artists.