Sandow Birk was born in 1962 in
Detroit, Michigan and raised on the beaches of Orange County, California.
He is a graduate of the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, Los
Angeles, and resides in Southern California. Subjects of his work include
gang violence, graffiti culture, prisons, surfing, skateboarding, Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Iraq war, and the
Qur’an. Birk creates monumental series developed over the course of many years,
often working across media to support his ideas through a multi-disciplinary
approach—painting, drawing, printmaking, writing, film, video, and sculpture.
Birk has exhibited in
dozens of museum and galleries, and his work is in many public and museum
collections including: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Fine Art
Museums of San Francisco; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Getty
Center in Los Angeles; the New York Historical Society and the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York; Harvard University Art Museum in Cambridge,
Massachusetts; Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma, Italy; and Stadtisches
Kunstmuseum in Reutlingen, Germany.
Birk has received an NEA grant, a
Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Getty Fellowship, and a City
of Los Angeles Fellowship.
Most recently, Birk’s work has
been the subject of several solo exhibitions including shows at the Andy Warhol
Museum in 2011; McKinney Avenue Contemporary and the San Jose Museum of Art in
2012; Arizona State University Library and Millersville University Winter
Center Gallery in 2013; and The University of Puget Sound Kittridge Gallery in
2014. In 2015, W.W. Norton will publish American
Qur’an, a book of Birk’s complete series of paintings on this
subject, which will coincide with solo exhibitions at Catharine Clark Gallery
and the Orange County Museum of Art.
Birk is represented by Catharine
Clark Gallery where he has exhibited his work since 1994. He was in
residency at Montalvo Arts Center’s Lucas Artist Program in 2010 at which time
he worked on American Qur’an.