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Juliene Berk: Brief Biography

Juliene Berk, n.d. Photo documented by Karen Greene

and courtesy of Juliene Berk.

Juliene Berk’s path to stained glass was a winding one, and her work in stained glass remains a small moment of creative expression in a lifetime of creative acts. Though today she identifies more as a writer and playwright, Berk began her career as a professional singer.

The seventh child born in 1926 to Romanian Jewish immigrant parents in Jacksonville, Florida, Berk was a self-described musical prodigy, and she performed in public as early as age eleven.

By seventeen, Berk was studying at New York’s Juilliard School of Music. Her talent soon led her at twenty-nine to sing American art songs as a lead on a 1955 European concert tour sponsored by the American government—part of the official, United States Cold War cultural diplomacy initiative. By her early thirties, Berk had made her debut singing at Carnegie Recital Hall. Though her performance was well-received, Berk realized then that she would never live up to her personal standard of excellence, and she gave up her singing career.

 

 

 

Audio Recordings of Juliene Berk

Various dates: 1937 (age 11) - 1946 (age 20), and later.

Recordings courtesy of Juliene Berk.

Photograph of Juliene Berk as a baby, n.d., and photographs of Juliene Berk c. 1955 on or preparing for her European concert tour.

Photographs documented by Karen Greene and courtesy of Juliene Berk

Berk’s creative spirit, however, was not diminished, and she threw herself into the artistic opportunities available to a young and driven individual living in 1950s New York City. At the time of her Carnegie Hall debut, Berk was already a principal in a downtown craft gallery, Craftsman’s Fair, where she designed furniture. After encountering fused glass at a craft show, Berk became fascinated with colored glass’ visual effects. She began to explore alternative glass techniques, and Berk created and sold glass panel lampshades, light fixtures, wall panels, murals, and windows.

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		                                    Trees and Flowers		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Example of Juliene Berk's early stained glass. Image courtesy of artist.</span>
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		                                    Detail of Flowers		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Example of Juliene Berk's early stained glass. Image courtesy of artist.</span>
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		                                    Bird Stained Glass		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Example of Juliene Berk's early stained glass. Image courtesy of artist.</span>
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		                                    Detail of Stained Glass		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Example of Juliene Berk's early stained glass. Image courtesy of artist.</span>
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		                                    Tower and Sky		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Example of Juliene Berk's early stained glass. Image courtesy of artist.</span>
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		                                    Detail of Tower and Clouds		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Example of Juliene Berk's early stained glass. Image courtesy of artist.</span>
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		                                    Detail of Tower		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Example of Juliene Berk's early stained glass. Image courtesy of artist.</span>

Examples of Juliene Berk's early stained glass works, various dates.

Berk’s stained glass career ended not too long after completing the FTJC windows. This shift wasn’t, however, a felt loss; Berk’s real ambition was to become a writer, particularly a playwright. Berk soon dedicated her time to writing and staging plays, and then, later, to writing her mother’s story of growing up in Romania and coming to America.

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		                                    FTJC Windows, in situ		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">n.d.</span>
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		                                    FTJC Windows		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Photo by Karen Greene.</span>
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		                                    FTJC Windows		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Photo by Karen Greene.</span>
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		                                    FTJC Windows		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Photo by Karen Greene.</span>
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		                                    Juliene Berk and FTJC Windows		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">c. 1960, Photo courtesy of Juliene Berk.</span>
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		                                    FTJC Windows		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Photo by Karen Greene.</span>
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		                                    FTJC Windows		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Photo by Karen Greene.</span>
  • 		                                		                                <span class="slider_title">
		                                    FTJC Windows		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Photo by Karen Greene.</span>
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		                                    FTJC Windows		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Photo by Elizabeth Berkowitz.</span>

 

Thu, December 2 2021 28 Kislev 5782