Episode 18: Adjoa Burrowes: Telling Your Own Story

Adjoa Burrowes has had several successful careers and it was such an honor to talk with her about her art practice, teaching, and children’s books. She spoke about narrative and the importance of telling your own story and ensuring that students have opportunities to tell their own stories. I was so moved and inspired by this conversation. I hope you feel the same as you listen.

Her discussion of the empowerment telling your own story provides reminded me of this talk by the acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “The Danger of a Single Story.”

Adjoa Burrowes is a mixed media artist and educator. Her multifaceted career includes decades as a graphic designer for major corporations, and illustrating over a dozen picture books – including Grandma’s Purple Flowers which she also authored. Her journey as a teaching artist includes years teaching in the National Museum of Women in the Art’s Bridging Communities and Arts, Books, and Communities (ABC) program in 12 schools, and 11 years developing art residencies as a teaching artist with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in dozens of schools in the DC metropolitan area. Burrowes has a BFA from Howard University in printmaking and an MA in art education from the Corcoran School of Art at The George Washington University. In her current art practice she creates abstract mixed media prints,  collages, and sculpture from reclaimed cardboard that address issues of consumerism, decay, and rebirth. She lives and maintains a studio in northern Virginia and is an elementary art teacher at The Flint Hill School in Oakton, Virginia.

Between Me and The Earth, collage

Adjoa’s words at the end about standing in the footprints of great artists are so powerful. Her story and her grit provide such motivation. To hear how she kept pushing to become a children’s book illustrator and then author by continuing despite hearing “no” again and again. 

“Keep pushing at it until the door opens.” She said. Yes!! Force those doors to open for you! 

I also loved her response to creative block – just sitting in that stuckness and letting it be time for incubation of an idea. She talked about how that pause, that slowing down is part of the creative process. 

Soak up her wisdom!

A Look Beyond, collage

Links:

Hope in Troubled Times, collage
Winds of Change, monotype
Flower Box 2, digital print
Take Off 2, paper sculpture
Warriors We, mixed media
Fall’s Carnival of Colors from Grandma’s Purple Flowers
Mixed Media Cut-paper Collage 9.5″ x 16″
Kisses to Sun from Grandma’s Purple Flowers
Mixed Media Cut-paper Collage 9.5″ x 16″
Everybody Wears Braids, written and illustrated by Adjoa Burrowes.
A celebration of the many different ways a multiracial group of seven friends braid their hair.
Spread from My Steps, illustrated by Adjoa Burrowes


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