Opens Spring

A.K.A. Resurrection

Lilian Thomas Burwell

IRAAA+ invited Lilian Burwell to help us celebrate the end of a severe winter with this imagery of awakening and renewal.   Burwell is a painter and 3-D artist whose large works take the form of sinuous shapes carved out of the wood over which she stretches the canvas which becomes the ground for the painting.   She lives in Highland Beach, MD, and is preparing for a 2015 retrospective at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis.


This painting was done in 1982, inspired by a dry, seemingly dead seed pod picked up from the floor of a florist shop while I waited for a friend to finalize arrangements for her daughter’s wedding.  In my hand I held what I Lilian Burwell, Opens Spring. Collection of Curtis Lewis, LLC, Washington, DCsaw as a microcosm of life itself.  The very shape of the pod, bulging in the middle, held the secret promise of a different life.

If this discarded ‘nothing’ were to be planted in the earth, the rains to come and the inevitable warmth of the sun would work their magic.  Few, including myself, who looked at what I held in my palm could really predict what it might become.

Back in my studio in the ensuing weeks, I painted what I saw as promise.  I named it Opens Spring.  A visitor who came to my studio much later turned it from the vertical position in which I’d painted it, to a horizontal one.  “There…,” she said. “It’s really ‘Resurrection’!”

And so it is. — Lilian Thomas Burwell