Skip to Content

Student Spotlight: Brandie “Texas” Burks

Brandie "Texas" Burks stands against a balcony in the second floor hallway at Stamps.

Brandie Texas” Burks is making her mark as a seasoned healthcare professional turned accomplished artist at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. As a non-traditional transfer student, Burks’ journey moved through multiple degrees, states, and career paths before landing at Stamps. She now plans to become an art teacher to inspire the next generation of artists. 

Despite not pursuing a career in art and design right away, Burks realized that creativity was with her for years. Burks spent her free time making flower arrangements, centerpieces, and cards as gifts. Her mother made extravagant silk flower sculptures, and her father is a skilled craftsman. 

I’ve been having these epiphanies at 46. My entire family is gifted in the area of art and design. I have actually been practicing art and design my entire life, but my family never formally called it art,’” Burks said. 

I have actually been practicing art and design my entire life, but my family never formally called it art.’ ”

In summer 2022, just before Burks’ mother passed away, Burks concluded that art and design had been her destiny all along.

I had a three hour conversation with my mom. She had been doing sculpting and 3D art all my life, but we just thought they were presents for people. She showed me this beautiful flower arrangement that she had made out of silk flowers, and in the vines were spirals that I designed,” Burks said. It just hit home and it hit my heart.” 

The conversation was the sign Burks needed to choose sculpture as her concentration at Stamps. 

Texas Burks sits while sketching in a sketchbook.

Healthcare and Art

Burks’ background within her previous career in nursing and hospice is bridged with her future in art and design. Burks first received her pharmaceutical license in 2004, and worked in the field for over a decade, gaining communication talent, interpersonal skills, and compassion. The skills are ideal for a future in the classroom.

Burks’ interest in art education led her to enroll in lecturer Melanie Manos’ course, Detroit Connections: In the Classroom. Manos credits Burks for her dedication.

I’ve worked with Texas in two classes and she is a serious artist, committed to practice and process,” Manos said. While it may not appear so because of her gift for colloquial repartee, Texas demonstrates extraordinary courage on a daily basis as a non-traditional student, starting an undergraduate degree program at a later age, all while her prior training, skills and experience are essentially invisible.” 

Texas Burks hugs a Stamps student with a yellow backpack in a courtyard.

Applying to Stamps

Before her transfer to Stamps, Burks enrolled in Washtenaw Community College along with her son for a liberal arts transfer. There, Burks and her son teamed up for a college education.

I went to my advisor at Washtenaw Community College and I said that I needed a fun class.’ Intuition was leading me straight to the art department,” Burks said. I literally changed my life. All the dots were connecting, the T’s were crossing, and it was all happening.” 

Burks’ family members later suggested that she apply at Stamps. Burks then compiled an intricate portfolio with a little bit of everything,” containing oil paintings, charcoal works, two pages out of her sketchbook, and photography.

After being accepted into Stamps, Burks had no doubt she would also be accepted into the wider Stamps community.

At Stamps, it’s a small knit community in a big school, where they nurture and embrace and push and cradle. I knew 1,000% that I was going to be embraced and accepted and challenged for who I am,” Burks said.

I knew 1,000% that I was going to be embraced and accepted and challenged for who I am.”

Burks helps other incoming students as a student ambassador. Manos says that the role spotlights Burks’ communication skills, which she’s developed through her already accomplished career.

Texas is a support for fellow transfer students, and an advocate for Stamps in public messaging where her communication skills and down to earth approach shine,” Manos said. 

Texas Burks sits with a notebook, pencil case, and laptop on a patio table in the Stamps courtyard while coloring.

Finding her Calling

Burks has spent much of her life helping others while using her skill: through her maturity in the classroom, compassion for her own son, and history in healthcare. By taking advantage of Stamps’ explorative curriculum, Burks was able to find her calling within art education. 

There’s an array of topics to choose from at Stamps, and then, you get to narrow them down and find your path and yourself,” Burks said. I want to encourage this generation to find their voice, know their worth and provide a colorful beacon that instills guidance and hope. Ultimately, I want to be a part of the students’ extended support system during one of the most epic times of their lives.” 

With her love for the younger generation and repertoire of professionalism, Burks hopes to change the world as an art educator.

These kids are the future, and I plan on being a part of that bright future– bridging the gap generationally,” Burks said. I know they are going to make this world a better place using art and design as a springboard to universal understanding.” 

Story by Katelyn Stuck.