Those who are familiar with Laurel Burch's hopeful, whimsical, colorful art might be surprised to find she was struggling with pain for most of her life; her outlook was the polar opposite of how she felt physically. Diagnosed with severe osteopetrosis at the age of 7, Burch's bones would easily break or fracture just from a fall or bump. Raising two children on her own was quite a challenge not just physically but financially. Art proved to be her saving grace. She dedicated herself to creativity, eventually becoming hugely successful and an inspiration worldwide. Rather than expressing her pain, she chose to lift people up, to make them feel good. In this interview, Burch talks about her courage -- something she humbly says is nothing special but rather a quality we all have; we just need to use it. Ten years after her death, her spirit lives on in her artwork.


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  • Cindy

    I never knew any of this, only that her art is joyful and wonderful. Amazing person.

  • Pat

    She had a beautiful soul - we see it in her work and her life. Laurel let us know she had far more joy than sadness.

  • Sidonie Grace

    Truly admirable, inspiring and uplifting. Good to be reminded that pain or extreme suffering does not prevent me from doing great things if I have made up my mind to bring joy and beauty to others! Humbling. Thanks very much.

  • QuickStitcher

    I love her designs and have needlepointed some of them! Her determination to continue with her art is a gift to the world. Yes, everyone can make a difference.

  • jon Dougal

    Even thou she was my sister, some of this Vid I din't know about her, she never complained, at least when we were together. Her major focus was on helping people and giving of herself to people who NEEDED her. I always loved her work space. Both she and her mother, who was also a very talented artist, had studios that were in themselves inspiring as well as a work in progress. Laurel surrounded her self w/ inspiration. Rare birds (alive) as well as paintings and serigraphs. For me she as a very giving sister. One time She was leaving town and gave me her apartment on Knob hill, SF, I told her I was having a lady over for dinner, so before she left she created a very romantic setting for me to "entertain" I never forgot that setting.

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    How lovely, to transform pain to uplift. It's how i seek to be too though my pain is different brain chemistry. Here's to using our challenges to serve others with hope, light, color and love. thank you, I needed this today! <3 Hugs from my heart to yours at karmatube!

  • Caroline

    "Every time I see a piece by Laurel Burch my day gets just a little bit more hopeful. Its like a little secret message to my soul."

  • Anne Caravella

    Laurel is as vibrant now as she was then. Although she's passed, look at how she lives. Everyone should own a piece of her creativity. Hope she said she wanted to give to people and that's just what she did.

  • amy sheneman

    I have always loved her artwork - especially her cats - but I never knew how she struggled - she is even more special to me now ♥

  • ruth kamen

    Uplifting others!!! What a wonderful woman!

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  • Learn more about Disability Arts International, a platform that promotes the work of excellent disabled artists, disabled-led companies and inclusive arts organisations.
  • Judith Scott was a remarkable artist who was born deaf and with Downs Syndrome. Learn more about her story and unique creations.
  • Check out more of Laurel Burch's artwork -- perhaps it will inspire you in your own creative endeavors!

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