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Diane Burko: Visualizing Climate Change


Summary Note

For more than 40 years, painter Diane Burko has focused on monumental and geological phenomenon, but began focusing on climate change in 2006. Materials include exhibition ephemera, project cover sheets and reference photographs from two bodies of work, a blog, press materials, and interviews.

Biographical Note

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945, Diane Burko graduated from Skidmore College in 1966 receiving a B.S. in art history and painting. She continued her study of painting earning an M.F.A. in 1969 from the Graduate School of Fine Arts of the University of Pennsylvania. Burko went on to become professor of fine arts at the Community College of Philadelphia from 1969-2000. Burko has taught at other schools such as Princeton University, Arizona State University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

In 1974, she founded the all city festival: FOCUS: Philadelphia Focus on Women in the Visual Arts – Past and Present as part of her ongoing commitment to the Feminist Art movement. In 1976, Ivan Karp offered Burko a “Dealer’s Showcase” at OK Harris Gallery in New York, NY, which attracted the attention of critic David Bourdon, who reviewed her solo exhibition in The Village Voice.

In 1989, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund awarded Burko a six-month residency in Giverny, France. In 1993, Burko was awarded a residency at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center in Bellagio where she painted en plein air for five weeks. For her 1994 Locks Gallery exhibition, Luci ed Ombra di Bellagio (Lights and Shadow of Bellagio), Robert Rosenblum, who first took an interest in Burko’s work in 1976, wrote the accompanying catalog essay. In 1996, Burko won a $200,000 Public Art Commission. Wissahickon Reflections is a suite of three monumental canvases installed in the interior of the Marriott International Hotel in Philadelphia. In 2000, a $50,000 Leeway prize enabled Burko to travel to Hawaii, Italy and Iceland, funding a project on Volcanoes, producing a series of photographs and paintings. In 2013, The Independence Foundation supported her travels to the Arctic Circle with an artist fellowship. In September 2013 she voyaged to Svalbard in the high Arctic with a group of 26 other artists. Before that expedition she was invited to join a research team of geologists in Ny-Alesund (Northern most research station in the world), as they flew and landed on top of Glaciers Kronebreen and Kongsvegen. This complimented her earlier expedition to Antarctica in January. Witnessing melting ice as a key indicator of climate change continued in August, 2014 with explorations at Ilulissat and Eqi glaciers in Greenland. In December she returned to Antarctica as a member of the educational team of the non-profit Students on Ice. After returning from her two-week voyage to the Antarctic peninsula, she flew to El Calafatte to explore the southern Patagonian Ice field of Argentina: the Upsala, Perdito Moreno, and Viedma Glaciers specifically.

Although Burko has traveled to Iceland, Greenland, the Antarctic and other places she has painted, most of her work is done in her studio from photographs taken by governmental agencies (e.g. USGS), individuals (e.g. Bradford Washburn), or from her own expeditions.

Scope and Content

For more than 40 years Diane Burko has focused on monumental and geological phenomena throughout the world based on her ability to investigate actual locations on the ground and in the air from open-door helicopters and planes with cameras and sketchpads. Traveling from the temperate zones of America to those of Western Europe, from rain forests to regions of glaciers and active volcanoes, she has created paintings and photographs that merge the panoramic with the intimate.

In 1977, while flying with artist James Turrell in his Helio Courier over the Grand Canyon, Burko captured her first aerial photographs of the landscape. Since then, this has been her preferred process of securing landscape imagery as source material for her paintings. However, since 2000 she began making photographs as art works in themselves.

Since 2006, Burko has focused on climate change, situating her practice at the intersection of art and science. In her Politics of Snow Project, and with the addition of the more recent Polar Investigations work, she continues to invent visual strategies to make the invisible visible and visceral to the public. This archive contains a comprehensive selection of catalogs and printed ephemera related to her entire career, and source images for 89 paintings, which comprise the majority of the Politics of Snow project, as well as images from 2012 that are part of her Polar Investigations work.

Materials include ephemera from Burko’s artistic career, project cover sheets and working reference photographs from her two bodies of work, Politics of Snow (2007-2012) and Polar Investigations (from 2013-ongoing), an Arctic and Antarctic blog, and online interviews.

Burko’s art career archives from 1969 to 2000 reside at Rutgers University as part of the Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists.


Diane Burko: Visualizing Climate Change is organized into ten folders. The first two folders contain materials related to Burko’s two Polar projects, the third is her blog and onsite photographs, the fourth contains grant materials. The following three folders contain exhibition ephemera organized chronologically, while the final three folders contain press, education, and miscellaneous materials.
  • 1 The Politics of Snow: 2007 – 2012
  • 2 Polar Investigations: 2013 – 2016
  • 3 Artist Blogs and Photographs: 2010 – 2017
  • 4 Grant Materials: 2014
  • 5 Exhibition Ephemera: 1977 – 2010
  • 6 Exhibition Ephemera: 2011 – 2016
  • 7 Exhibition Ephemera: 2017 – 2019
  • 8 Outreach and Educational Materials: 2010 – 2019
  • 9 Press and Online Materials: 2010 – 2017
  • 10 Awards and Miscellaneous Materials: 2011 – 2018

Inclusive Dates


Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

2.5 cubic feet



Related Publications

Alloway, Lawrence and Lenore Malen. Diane Burko. Philadelphia PA: Marion Locks Gallery, 1988.

Andrews, Lynne. Antarctic Eye: The Visual Journey. Mornington, Tasmania: Studio One, 2007.

Art in Embassies. United States Embassy Copenhagen: ART in Embassies Exhibition. Washington DC: ART in Embassies, 2012.

Ballinger, James K., and Andrea D. Rubenstein. Visitors to Arizona 1846 to 1980. Phoenix AZ: Phoenix Art Museum, 1980.

Balog, James. Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers. New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, 2012.

Bourdon, David. Land Survey: 1970 – 1995, Paintings by Diane Burko. Bethlehem PA: Payne Gallery of Moravian College, 1995.

Burko, Diane. Diane Burko: Landscapes: Paint/Pixel. Philadelphia PA: Rider University Art Gallery in cooperation with Locks Gallery, 2004.

Burko, Diane. Diane Burko: Reflets, Paintings from Giverny. Philadelphia, PA: Marion Locks Gallery, 1990.

Burko, Diane. Diane Burko: The Politics of Snow. Philadelphia, PA: Locks Gallery, 2010.

Burko, Diane. Diane Burko: Water Matters. Santa Fe, NM: LewAllen Galleries, 2012.

Burko, Diane. Seeing Climate Change. Washington, DC: American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, 2021.

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. The Value of Water. New York, NY: The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 2011.

Ehrlich, Gretel. In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2010.

Foster, Tony. Ice and Fire: Watercolour Diaries of Volcano Journeys. Exeter, Devon, England: Seattle, WA: Royal Albert Memorial Museum; Meyerson + Nowinski, 1998.

Fox, William L. Terra Antarctica: Looking into the Emptiest Continent. San Antonio TX: Trinity University Press, 2005.

Goodyear, Frank H. Jr., Contemporary American Realism: since 1960, Boston MA. New York Geographic Society, 1981.

Green Corps. 2016 Save the Earth Green Corps Exhibition. Unknown: Green Corps, 2016.

McGregor, Jennifer. Seven Deadly Sins, Wrath: Force of Nature. NY: Wave Hill, 2015.

McLane, Preston. Terrestrial Forces. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, 2004.

Museum of the Philadelphia Civic Center. Earth Art ’73. Philadelphia PA: The Philadelphia Civic Center, 1973.

National Academy of Sciences. Endangered: From Glaciers to Reefs / Diane Burko. NY: KMW Studio Publishing, 2019.

Olson, Toby and Diane Burko. The Shadow Under the Shadow. Self-published: 2006.

Packard, Andrea. Diane Burko: Glacial Shifts, Changing Perspectives. Fayetteville, AR: Walton Arts Center, 2017.

Ratcliff, Carter. Diane Burko: The Volcano Series. Philadelphia PA: Locks Art Publications, 2001

Rosenblum, Robert. Diane Burko: Luci ed ombra di Bellagio. (The Light and Shadow of Bellagio) Philadelphia PA: Locks Gallery, 1994.

Sasse, Julie and Emily Handlin. Trouble in Paradise: Examining the Discord between Nature and Society. Tucson, AZ: Tucson Museum of Art, 2009.

Seaman, Camille. Melting Away. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.

Spring, Justin. Diane Burko: Earth Water Fire Ice. Philadelphia PA: Locks Art Publications, 2004.

Talasek, J.D., Imagining Deep Time. Washington, DC: Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014.

Valerio, William R. The Pennsylvania Landscape in Impressionism and Contemporary Art. Philadelphia, PA: Woodmere Art Museum, 2018.

Container Listing:

  • CAE Box 83 Objects

    • 3b,c Source Imagery for Approaching Kronebreen Triptych, 2014
    • 7b,c Source Imagery for Ortophoto Kongsfjorden (1869-1990 after NPI), 2014
    • 14b,c Source Imagery for Davidson Glacier Diptych, 2011
    • 19b,c Source Imagery for Patagonia Ice Field I, 2015
    • 32b,c Source Imagery for Upsala, 1968-2010, 2015
    • 35b,c Source Imagery for Arctic Melting, July 2016 (After NASA), 2016
    • c,d Source Imagery for Upsala on my Mind, 2015

Additional Materials

    CAE Box 83 Objects

    • 1#5b-d Source Imagery for 20 Mile Glacier Diptych, 2009
    • 1#6b Source Imagery for Arctic Cyclone, 2012
    • 1#7b Source Imagery for Bear Glacier Diptych, 2009
    • 1#9b Source Imagery for Boulder Glacier Diptych, 2010
    • 1#10b-d Source Imagery for Five Part - Columbia glacier III (figure 46), 2011
    • 1#11b-e Source Imagery for Columbia Glacier Quadtych, 2011
    • 1#12b-h Source Imagery for Columbia Glacier Triptych, 2010
    • 1#15b-d Source Imagery for Disappearing Series 2, 2007
    • 1#16b-e Source Imagery for Everest Quadtych, 2010
    • 1#17b-d Source Imagery for Grinnell Glacier Overlook Diptych, 2009
    • 1#18b-e Grinnell Mt. Gould Quadtych, 2009
    • 1#19b-d Source Imagery for Grinnell North Moraine Diptych, 2010
    • 1#20b-f Source Imagery for Johns Hopkins, Gilman Glacier, 2011-12
    • 1#21b Source Imagery for Khumbu Icefall Diptych, 2010
    • 1#22b-e Source Imagery for Khumbu Icefall-Everest Diptych, 2010
    • 1#23b Source Imagery for Kilimanjaro Diptych, 2009
    • 1#24b Source Imagery for Kilimanjaro Quadtych, 2010
    • 1#25b Source Imagery for NASA Tracking Petermann #1-7 (June 25 – August 22, 2011), 2012
    • 1#26b-h Source Imagery for Nunatak Glacier Diptych, 2010
    • 1#27b Source Imagery for Okpilak Glacier Diptych, 2007
    • 1#28b Source Imagery for Petermann Calving, August 16, 2010, 2012
    • 1#29b-k Source Imagery for Petermann Heading South (2010-2011 after NASA), 2012
    • 1#30b Source Imagery for Portage Glacier Diptych, 2009
    • 1#31b-e Source Imagery for Qori Kalis Diptych 1, 2009
    • 1#32b-f Source Imagery for Qori Kalis Diptych 2, 2009
    • 1#33b Source Imagery for Tebenkok Glacier Diptych, 2009
    • 2#1b Source Imagery for Antarctica Diptych (Day and Night), 2013
    • 2#2b-h Source Imagery for Antarctica Quartet, 2013
    • 2#4b Source Imagery for Kronebreen (1990 after NPI), 2014
    • 2#5b-e Source Imagery for Kronebreen Front Study #1, 2014
    • 2#6b-d Source Imagery for Main Rongbuk Glacier, Tibet Triptych, 2010
    • 2#8b-d Source Imagery for Paradise Channel (Lemaire 1-4), 2013
    • 2#9b-d Source Imagery for Petermann Quadtych, 2013
    • 2#20b Source Imagery for Modis III, 2015
    • 2#21b Source Imagery for UNESCO National Heritage II, 2015
    • 2#22b Source Imagery for Ilulissat Fjord, (Landsat Series), 2015
    • 2#23b Source Imagery for Greenland Melting, (Landsat Series), 2015
    • 2#24b Source Imagery for Eagle Glacier Juneau 1982-2005, (Landsat Series), 2015
    • 2#25b Source Imagery for Antarctic Peninsula, (Landsat Series), 2015
    • 2#25c Source Imagery for Antarctic Peninsula, (Landsat Series), 2015
    • 2#26b Source Imagery for Approaching Peninsula, (Landsat Series), 2015
    • 2#27b Source Imagery for Ross McMurdo Station, (Landsat Series), 2015
    • 2#28b Source Imagery for Patagonian Ice Field, (Landsat Series), 2015
    • 2#29b Source Imagery for Scott Antarctic Expedition, (Landsat Series), 2015
    • 2#31b Source Imagery for Upsala Glacier Aerial, 2015
    • 2#34b Source Imagery for Upsala II 2010, 2015