Posted by Douglas Gray on June 23, 2014
What kind of person was Laurel Burch will be determined by your prospective and whether you judge people by a single action or look at them as a whole person who has lived many years. In all of the records about this great American artist that could be construed as negative would be her police record. When she was only 20 years old, newly divorced with two small infants to feed she was arrested for stealing a piece of meat.
As for her lifetime of achievements, Laurel Burch received many awards and acknowledgements for her art work, contributions to her community and awards only given to women. In all, she amassed 12 awards and acknowledgements from the time period of 1989 to 2009. The last one was given to her postmortem with her entry to the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame.
Laurel Burch had a troubled and painful life. Her family life, when she was growing up, was not a very happy one. Her parents did not get along very well. She also spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital recovering from broken bones. She had a rare bone disease that caused her bones to become brittle and snap. This could occur and did when she would walk, or even eat. Because of this she spent many weeks alone recovering from the breaks that also kept her out of school for long periods of time.
By the time she turned 14, Laurel decided to venture out into the world alone. She did know how to read and write, but she never took an art class while taking her formal education. Today she would be considered a runaway, but back in the 1960s, it was common for young boys and girls to take to the streets. She made her way to San Francisco by working as a babysitter and maid. Once there she became part of the flower children movement. She earned a living as a street musician and married the first of her three husbands, Robert Burch. This occurred when she was 19. By the age of 20 she was divorced with two children and on welfare.
This is when Laurel decided to pick up pieces of bones, old coins, button, wire and metal she would find lying around in the streets. She would take these items home and pound them into wonderful shapes on the back of a cast iron frying pan to create jewelry. This jewelry she would then sell on the streets out of an old fishing tackle box. This helped her to break free of the welfare cycle many single mothers fall into.
While selling her homemade jewelry, many of the local stores noticed her and began to sell her items for her. This is when an Indian businessman noticed her and invested in her art production. He took her jewelry to China where Laurel Burch became not only the first foreign women the Chinese government approved the manufacturing of their products for, but also the very first American. The rest is history with the art work created by Laurel reaching around the world with multiple distribution points.
So what kind of person was Laurel Burch? She was a single mother who had medical problems that caused her to be in severe pain and also had very little formal education that got off of welfare and became a world renowned business woman that made considerable positive contributions to her community. To many she is a hero.
Copyright © 2014 by ColorfulCritters - may not be published without our permission
Copyright © 2017 by ColorfulCritters - may not be published without our permission