“As an artist who has contributed to the Art in Embassies program for over 40 years, I felt honored to be asked to participate in the artist exchange and I felt a responsibility to represent my country as an artist citizen. Art is universal with a language that can be understood and appreciated no matter the geographical boundaries. Demonstrating that the United States values its artists and cultural heritage speaks volumes to host countries. Providing opportunities for a mutual exchange of ideas deepens and broadens understanding and good will.”
Artist Diane Burko traveled to Helsinki, Finland, in May of 2016 to participate in a three-day artist exchange organized by Art in Embassies and U.S. Embassy Helsinki. The official program included meetings with local artists, educators, and curators. Burko started her first day with a presentation at the Helsinki Visual Arts High School on Monday morning. She found: “The students, mostly female, seemed pleased to learn of my success and adventures as a woman artist, and very interested in my climate change focus in my artistic practice.” The presentation at the High School was followed by a meeting with the director of the Kunsthalle Helsinki, Jan Forster, and an afternoon meeting with artist Kristina Riska. Burko noted: “My most notable experience was the creation of a new friendship with this accomplished artist. We were introduced by a mutual friend and met up again after the official program had concluded.”
On Tuesday, Burko met with the chief of exhibitions at the Helsinki Art Museum, Pirkko Siitari, and Chief Curator at KIASMA, Marja Sakari. On Wednesday, Burko had a meeting with chief curator at Atheneum, Timo Huusko, and had lunch with Vesa Heikkinen, principal lecturer at the University of Haaga-Helia Applied Sciences. That evening, the artist and her work in the Art in Embassies exhibition were featured at a reception at the Residence of Ambassador Charles Adams and Mrs. Vera Risteski-Adams. Burko had also arranged for meetings in addition to her official program, to facilitate site specific research such as the exploration of the glacial history of Finland, and photographing the Salpausselka ridges, which are remnants of the ice age and will most likely figure in future projects.