Arts & Culture News

Puppetry And Make-Believe With Kathy Burks

Ahoy! Now that this year's big Best Of Dallas issue is behind us, we're back with another installment of Profiles In Pictures. This time photographer Sara Kerens pulls back the tiny curtain and shows us where the make-believe comes to life with puppetry artist Kathy Burks. Take another look into the world of another Dallas creative through our lens and hear what they have to say in our Q&A after the jump!

Who are you, what do you do, who do you do it for, and where do you do it?
My name is Kathy Burks and I make puppets of all kinds and produce puppet shows for everyone interested in the art of puppetry and the story of life. My family and I have created a puppetry troupe that has been in existence for the past forty years. We have performed in The Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts for many years and now we perform at the Dallas Children's Theater in the Rosewood Center for Family Arts. I hold the title of Artist in Residence.

What do you find the most satisfying about what you do, and why?
The most exciting aspect of what I do is to bring into visual reality the ideas and images that first exist in my head. These figures become moving, dancing, speaking, flying characters that live on the stage or on film. I love introducing young minds to the classics both in literature and in music. I love inspiring young and old with the beauty of creation in stories and graphic art. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the art of puppetry.

What is your favorite tool/special resource that allows you to do what you do?
My favorite tool to use is plasticine clay ... the art of sculpture. All of our puppet heads are first sculpted and then cast in a very light material so the puppet will not be heavy. Because the face of each character does not change to reflect emotion as a human face would, the essence of the character must be determined and captured in the face of the sculpted head. This is a challenge and, I must say, great fun.

What do you enjoy the most to do when you're not creating/working? Reading ... painting .. drawing and, my favorite past-time, eating.

If you could snap your fingers and immediately possess the knowledge/skills of an entirely different discipline, what would that be, and why?
Conducting a symphony orchestra playing Benjamin Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra." Oh, what the heck, I would like to conduct a symphony orchestra for a full season. And that would be great fun because, as a 14-year-old, I played cello in a special youth concert with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Walter Hendl, and I never forgot the wonder and joy of doing so. That experience inspired my desire to step up on the podium and conduct the full orchestra myself -- someday!

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Alexander Flores
Contact: Alexander Flores