Posing questions to local artist Tina Burnight

 Tina Burnight
Tina Burnight

Cory Bilicko
Managing Editor

In 100 words or less, what do you do as an artist?
I work in ceramics and mosaics. In my ceramic work, I prefer to hand-build my pieces. The free-flowing aspect of this process appeals to me. With my mosaics, I like to work with glass. Being able to cut and then grind each piece to the exact size and shape I need enables me to have a precision in my work that then allows me to play. It’s a time-consuming process— one piece of glass can take five minutes or more— but the results are well worth the time and effort.

What motivates you to create art?

My inspiration comes from many things. I like to incorporate a sense of movement in my work. The spin of the galaxies, the dance of sea turtles as they swim, water weaving itself as it flows, how the vines in my garden twist as they grow.

How has your practice changed over time?

I originally worked with glass in the more traditional medium of leaded or foiled glass windows. While this process was gratifying, I find incorporating the glass into mosaic pieces much more pleasing and fun.

Do you ever get artist’s block? If so, how do you combat it?

Occasionally, but when I do, I find that I get my best ideas while swimming, which I do regularly for both exercise and enjoyment. Also, I’ll go out to the studio and just look around at all the glass and supplies. Something will spark an idea!

 “Matt's Uke
“Matt’s Uke” glass mosaic on wood

What do you think your life would be like if, for some reason, you could no longer create art?
That’s just not possible! Art is everywhere and in everything and everyone. If one medium is taken from you, you find another, whether it’s music, dance, or just how you present yourself to the world.

What role does the artist have in society?
More roles than one! Some artists are able to show how we appear to other cultures, both within and without the boundaries of our country and our many societies. Some show the beauty of the natural world, some the beauty of the inner spirit. I believe our role is to show the myriad aspects of human existence.

 Genfodelse (Rebirth),
Genfodelse (Rebirth),” tile mosaic on planter

How do you feel when people ask you to explain the meaning of your art?
I’m always happy to talk about my art and the process I use to create it— what inspired me and why I chose the materials in a particular piece. I love to talk about the details!

Have you ever been banned or censored to any degree as an artist? If so, how did you react? If not, how do you think you would react in that situation?
I’ve never been in that situation; my work is not very controversial. I believe it’s important to embrace controversy in art as a way to begin a conversation that can lead to understanding other cultures, other ideas, other realities.

Does your artistic life ever get lonely? If so, what do you do to counteract it?
No, many of my friends are artists, as well. And when I’m working, I don’t feel lonely at all!

“RenOlive,” glass mosaic on wooden lazy susan

What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I hope to bring a sense of playfulness and whimsy to the world. We all need to have some fun!

What are one or two primary areas of fear for you as an artist?

That I won’t be taken seriously; that my work will be regarded as “fluff” and not worthwhile.

What are one or two factors that, when they’re in place, enable you to really flourish artistically?
It may seem counterintuitive, but I like having a deadline.

What jobs have you had other than being an artist?

I worked in telephony for over 20 years, “troubleshooting” in different capacities. I’ve also worked as an office manager.

What’s your favorite color?
Royal blue, but I’ve recently become enamored of orange’s many wonderful hues.

To see more of Burnight’s work, visit burnight-art.com .