In the l960s, Laurel Burch was selling her work on the streets of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. Today this “flower child'' is a nationally famous artist and designer who fluently speaks the universal language of art. Though she has never taken an art class, Laurel’s trademark style is the manifestation of her strong, imaginative spirit.
Growing up as a young girl in southern California, Laurel was the child on the block who brought everyone together through the world of imagination. Frequently hospitalized because of a rare bone disease, osteopetrosis, young Laurel would make things happen while recovering in the hospital-creating stories and making small gifts to cheer up the other patients. At the age of seven she was already spiritually precocious, using her physical obstacles as stepping stones to her inner strengths.
As a young woman, Laurel saw intrinsic beauty in the streets. She collected stones, bones, beads, and coins, joined them together, then polished them and wore her creations. When passersby admired a piece of her jewelry, she responded by giving it to them. People identified with and valued the kind of global spirit her work expressed, and soon she was able to sell the pieces she created.
This self-taught artist has since expanded her design to coffee mugs, clothing, tote bags, prints, fabric, buttons and note cards through The Laurel Burch Design Studio. Laurel considers herself to be more of a folk artist than a designer, creating symbols and myths that communicate universally. She paints images that represent her own values, yet at the same time provide a bridge between cultures, and honor the common ground.
The whole purpose of my art is to express beauty and meaning, and most of all connect people to one another in special ways.
Laurel furthers this commitment through her involvement within the community. She contributes her talents to causes supporting children, the disabled, animal welfare, disease prevention, and global conservation.
The strong, uplifting spirit of Laurel Burch is evident in her art and in her life. “I have had to overcome such an enormous number of obstacles that I have developed a belief system which allows me to feel like I can accomplish almost anything. Of course, I can’t, but sometimes the courage to say ‘I can' is all it takes.”