|Birth Date: 1905
|Death Date: 1969
|Emerson Burkhart was raised on a farm near Kalida, Ohio. He received his first art lessons from a local minister who provided drawing instruction. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1926, he moved to New York to study painting at the Art Students League. One year later, Burkhart moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts to study painting further on the east coast. In 1931, Burkhart returned to the midwest to teach at the Columbus Art School in Columbus, Ohio.
At the beginning of his career, Burkhart was inspired by the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements sweeping through the country. In the 1940s and early 1950s, however, Burkhart settled into a naturalistic style of painting that depicted the American experience. He was particularly interested in documenting regional tragedy and resilience, particularly in the African-American neighborhoods of Columbus. Burkhart’s compositions feature heavily textured surfaces and stylistic brushstrokes.
Burkhart exhibited his work at institutions such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Butler Institute of American Art. After the death of his wife in 1955, Burkhart traveled widely and painted across the country. He also created a large number of self-portraits during his lifetime. Burkhart’s body of work has been collected by notable museums and galleries such as the Columbus Museum of Art and the Ohio Historical Society.