Lilian Thomas Burwell: Enfolded


Info: Lilian Thomas Burwell: Enfolded, Feb  9 - Mar 11, 2023




NEW YORK, NEW YORK, February 1, 2023— Berry Campbell is pleased to present Lilian Thomas Burwell: Enfolded. This is the gallery’s second solo exhibition of Burwell’s painting and wall sculpture.  Living and working  in Highland Beach, Maryland, Burwell, age 95, was recently hailed as the “Tom Brady of Artists” in the New York Times. In 2022, Burwell received Howard University’s Lifetime Achievement Award along with Betye Saar.

Lilian Thomas Burwell: Enfolded highlights the dynamic transition in Burwell’s abstract visual language from two-dimensional painterly canvases to three-dimensional sculptural forms. Burwell’s paintings from the late 1970s and early 1980s employ a distinctly bold palette and reference the natural world, featuring organic forms that abstract biotic phenomena. In 1984, Burwell literally cut into a canvas, creating a shape beyond the square. This pivotal act gave way to Burwell’s examination of form, bringing forth Burwell’s signature style of three-dimensional, painted wall sculpture. Dr. David Driskell described Burwell’s work as, “transcendental in showing stylistic diversity of earthly beauty and cosmic vision.”

Lilian Thomas Burwell: Enfolded opens at Berry Campbell February 9 and continues through March 11, 2023. The artist “meet and greet” reception will take place February 25, 2023, 3 – 5 p.m.

Lilian Thomas Burwell was born in 1927 in Washington, D.C., and attended Pratt Institute, where she also did her practice teaching. She earned an MFA from Catholic University in 1975. As a master teacher of art in the public schools of Washington, D.C., she designed the pre-secondary school art curriculum before becoming a member of the visual arts faculty at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. She served as board member of the Smithsonian Institution Renwick Alliance from 1989 to 1992, and the Arlington Arts Centers from 1984 to 1987. She was founding and curatorial director of the Alma Thomas Memorial Gallery and curatorial director of the Sumner Museum and Archives in Washington, D.C., from 1981 to 1984.

Her published writings include From Painting to Painting as Sculpture: The Journey of Lilian Thomas Burwell (1997) and A Dichotomy of Passion: The Two Masters (2008). Burwell's works are in the collections of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland; Hampton University Museum; the Phillips Collection; John and Susan Horseman Collection, among many others.

In December 2022, Lilian Thomas Burwell was featured in the New York Times as the "Tom Brady of Artists" for being an artist active and working at the age of 95. In April 2022, Burwell received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Howard University, Washington, D.C. She was honored alongside Betye Saar and Dr. Alvia Wardlaw. Her work was included in Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today, an intergenerational exhibition highlighting 21 Black female abstract practitioners that traveled from Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City to The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida in 2017 and 2018.

Her life and art, as well as that of her aunt, is the subject of the documentary Kindred Spirits: Artists Hilda Wilkinson Brown and Lilian Thomas Burwell, which was an official selection at the San Antonio Black International Film Festival, the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, and the D.C. Black Film Festival in 2020. Burwell lives and works in Highland Beach, Maryland.


Christine Berry and Martha Campbell opened Berry Campbell Gallery in the heart of Chelsea on the ground floor in 2013. The gallery has a fine-tuned program representing artists of post-war American painting that have been overlooked or neglected, particularly women of Abstract Expressionism. Since its inception, the gallery has developed a strong emphasis in research to bring to light artists overlooked due to age, race, gender, or geography. This unique perspective has been increasingly recognized by curators, collectors, and the press.

Berry Campbell has been included and reviewed in publications such as Architectural Digest, Art & Antiques, Art in America, Artforum, Artnet News, Artnews, The Brooklyn Rail, Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, East Hampton Star, The Financial TimesGalerie Magazine, Luxe Magazine, The New Criterion, the New York Times, Vogue, Wall Street Journal, and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art.

In September 2022, Berry Campbell moved to 524 West 26th Street. The 9,000-square-foot gallery houses 4,500 square feet of exhibition space, including a skylit main gallery and four smaller galleries, as well as two private viewing areas, a full-sized library, executive offices and substantial on-site storage space. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m or by appointment. For further information please call at 212.924.2178, visit our website at, or email at