"Tom Burckhardt: Informal Worship"

By Bowdoin College Museum of Art
A man standing near a table in front of a wall with chalk lines and many works of art

Tom Burckhardt, artist, installing the exhibition, Tom Burckhardt: Informal Worship at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

In 2020, Tom Burckhardt (American, born 1964) began to create ink and collage drawings on found book pages. As an artist, Burckhardt has long been interested in “found text”—words that appear on billboards, road signs, or in people’s front yards. This interest is in part a response to his father Rudy Burckhardt’s acclaimed photographs of the heavily lettered urban landscape. He is particularly drawn to the way in which words appear in books, which he purchases from flea markets. After unbinding them, he draws, paints, and creates collages on the loose pages. In doing so, he disrupts and reimagines the meaning of the words on each page. “Old books about art, the social landscape, or self-help books have great chapter headings,” he explains. “But many don’t have any currency now. This work destroys and rescues them at the same time, giving the ideas some juice in today’s context.”

A bright artwork with purple and red backgrounod with a irregular shape in a v ariety of tones with the words "Informal Worship:In mid-May, Burckhardt brought 387 recently completed drawings to the Museum. Working with BCMA staff, he affixed these drawings with paper hinges directly on three walls in Zuckert Gallery amidst a complex network of blue and orange chalk lines. Seen together, these small drawings create an immersive environment of connected words, shapes, and color. The exhibition opened on May 23 and remains on view through August 18. Please join us on Thursday, July 18 when Burckhardt returns to campus to discuss the installation with art critic John Yau. The program begins at 4:30 pm in Beam Classroom and is followed by a reception at the BCMA.


Frank Goodyear III, co-director, Bowdoin College Museum of Art


Illustration: Tom Burckhardt, Informal Worship, 2021, ink and collage on book page.