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Brian Burkhardt from "Project Accessory" is one of the contestants on the Lifetime fashion accessory design competition series. He specializes in jewelry. He is currently living in Miami, Florida, but is originally from Manchester, New Hampshire.

At first glance, Brian Burkhardt's sculptures of plants and animals look as if they belong in a botanical garden instead of a contemporary art gallery. The hyacinth, the starfish, and the tiny snails appear to be perfectly preserved specimens. But then
Brian Burkhardt in "Project Accessory"
Brian Burkhardt Project Accessory
you notice a Macintosh computer plug emerging from the roots of a foxglove, and that the pattern on the wings of a butterfly is an exact replica of Louis Vuitton luggage. "I want people to stand an inch away and say, 'Wait a minute, is that real or not?'," Burkhardt says. "I like that blurred line."

A braduate of School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Burkhardt creates his hybrid flora and fauna out of polymer clay, spray foam and paint. "I'm trying to make something realistic and organic out of totally synthetic materials," he says. In Burkhardt's fake natural world, like the real natural world, "everything is connected," he says. Take the Foxglove Polar Petroabsorba, a.k.a. the Arctic Oil Plum, for example. Burkhardt thinks about "how that plant adapts when motor oil comes ashore, and what could happen when a wasp lands on that plant, and then what could happen when that wasp stings you."

Before Burkhardt began making his own plants, he grew real ones, farming organic vegetables on eastern Long Island and selling sunflowers for $5 a bunch in farmers' markets. "A farm is exactly like the art world," Burkhardt says. "You've got a greenhouse, you heat it, you plant seeds. Some of them take, some don't, some will produce fruit, some won't. There's a lot of preparation before you're ready to be out there with your work. That's just what happens in a studio."

Until six months ago, Burkhardt made his home in Boston, where he took on the role of arts booster as well as artist. He and photographer Tanit Sakakini conceived The Superheroes Project, a splashy public relations event in which a group of Boston artists dressed as Aquaman and Supergirl, among others, to help invigorate Boston's reputation as an art town. Burkhardt also created "Word of Mouth," an open, unjuried exhibit of small works by emerging artists that was first shown at the Rhys Gallery in Boston and was recreated for the Art Basel Miami Beach festival last year. "If you want to be an artist I really believe it's important to be out there," Burkhardt says. "The more success I experience, the more I feel I need to share it with other people."



BRIAN BURKHARDT (PROJECT ACCESSORY): FACTS

Where does Brian Burkhardt live? Find out here.

Hometown: Manchester, NH
Current Residence: Miami, FL





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