While attending USask, Burns began to participate in more cultural ceremonies and learn more about Cree cultural traditions. At the same time, he was also learning brain function through his undergraduate psychology courses, while exploring other areas, such as physics, and deepening his artistic practice.
Burns is now considering pursuing a full-time artistic career and is also considering how art can be used as a form of therapy and to promote healing. He discovered firsthand how art can help people get through difficult circumstances when the USask campus closed in 2020 due to COVID-19 and he began living and studying at home full time. .
“Pretty much I had a roller coaster ride (experience). Everyone was living in the same house and the same house 24/7, so everyone was pissing off each other, ”said Burns, whose hobbies before the pandemic included s practice and play the drums. “There was nowhere to go; I didn’t go to the gym and couldn’t play the drums. I was a great athlete and gained 50 pounds.
As the pandemic continued, Burns also experienced emotional shifts and changes in his eating and sleeping habits. However, he felt his life was starting to return to normal after visiting an elder’s sweat lodge and fasting for three days in the summer of 2020. His developing art practice also remained a bright light and glow. hope for him, as he continued to paint and draw even as COVID-19 changed his daily routines.
Last summer, a self-produced solo exhibition of Burns’ work, titled The void, was on display at the Drinkle Building in downtown Saskatoon from July 30 to August 28. In a social media post, Burns described the set of paintings featured in The void as “a reaction, a reflection and a narrative of what the pandemic has caused”.
“I felt between everything and lost since the closure of the whole country,” he wrote. “I used this time to heal and focus on my well-being.”
One of Burns’ paintings from The void, entitled Raedon, was on the cover of the winter 2021 edition of University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Journal (USURJ) when he was a psychology student. In the diary, Burns noted that Raedon talks about the insomnia he suffered during the pandemic in mid-December 2020.
Another of Burns’ paintings, Awakening, also appeared in USURJ. In the diary, he wrote that the article was aimed at overcoming the hardships brought on by the pandemic and “represents healing, strength and a clear direction for the future, regardless of what happens outside of ourselves.” .
“I adapted and found ways to stay motivated to complete a degree despite the challenges and changes due to COVID,” he said in an interview.
Burns is now focusing on his MFA studies, which he began in September 2021. He has created a website to present his works and also developed a clothing line who presents his pieces from The void. In addition, Burns is a teaching assistant at USask and works with the USask Art Galleries and Collection.