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Michael Burke

Michael Burke

Michael Burke
Site #12
599 High Street

Engraved cow horn jewelry & accessories

I grew up in a part of rural southwestern Pennsylvania where the hills and hollows are strewn with thin patches of woods, deeply rutted corn fields, strip mines and slag heaps.  Though the area had been settled for over two centuries, the success of each generation appeared to have been measured in terms of how drastically it could alter the appearance of its progressively smaller, and more oddly fragmented, parcels of land.

My parents' house, built of artfully hewn sandstone by Quakers in 1840, stood in marked contrast to the surrounding countryside, a lone relic that had neither collapsed, nor been pilfered for its materials.  By the late 1970's, however, it had been empty for several decades, with no stairs joining the first floor to the second. Along with an army of volunteer friends, they worked to restore it, and slowly the old stone house became a monument to their perseverance.

With few neighbor kids around, my childhood was spent in the company of my younger brothers, amongst the trees behind our house.  We passed long hours running through the woods, constructing forts and searching for ghosts in the twilight.  Throughout those years, it seemed there was always some renovation in progress at home, my parents and later my brothers and I joining in to accomplish the work.  When the time came, I went to college to study history, and there learned to research, analyze and think critically. I put these skills to work the following year, when I signed on with the Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps to conduct an African American History project for the city of Johnstown, PA.

In 2004, I relocated to Boston to be a part of the emerging film and television industry, and have since worked as a Costumer on nearly two dozen documentary films and feature length pictures. For as long as I can remember, I've maintained a core set of beliefs, centered on the importance of historic preservation, traditional workmanship and stewardship of resources. Since becoming a proud, progressive New Englander, I have come to understand that these values are intimately linked with the contemporary need for a vital arts and crafts movement, fair trade and environmental sustainability. Like a perfectly smooth surface, such ideals may always elude our best efforts, but I believe it is in constantly striving toward them that our world may, by degrees, be improved.