Torsten Zenas Burns


Burns came to Holyoke to reinvent and reimagine a city full of ideas, life, and color. Working with three other artists, they purchased the Parsons Hall Project space to create an area where artists can promote their material and work with other artists interactively. The purpose of the Parsons Hall Project Space was to integrate artists into the city of Holyoke and be able to relate the artist’s work to the community by promoting free events. Torsten and his business partners are passionate about creating a new hub for artists and reinventing the image of Holyoke from the inside out.


The Parsons Building was originally built in 1865. Burns has been able to work with three other artists to transform, reimagine, and reinvent the building space since moving to Holyoke. The purpose of the Project Space is to host artists globally and create a residency program for artists. The revitalization of the building in combination with working with trade artists has created a central integration of work and revitalization of Holyoke. In addition, the space can be used for teaching, creations, and various extensions of art media. This open ended experience of Parsons Hall Project Space is to promote and induce collaboration, and to produce new works of art by various artists.

Burns and Kari Gatzke are slowly but surely renovating Parsons Hall one room at a time. Both Torsten and Gatzke currently live in Parsons Hall while conducting their work in artists spaces and have transformed the space from an unused area to rooms full of potential.







Renovated Project Space for Artists to rent and collaborate

Renovated Project Space for Artists to rent and collaborate

Iconic Red Parsons Hall Door

Iconic Red Parsons Hall Door


Check out the multiple publications and complications of artists works Burns has compiled from the Parsons Hall Project Space. This one in particular is the response to “The Uncanny Pioneer Valley”.



In Burns’ latest collaboration with artists Maggie Nowinski, and Alician Renadette, the three of them presented their exhibition in the summer at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ Gallery. The exhibition is a collection of different mediums ranging from paintings, to sculpture, to film, and collages. The theme of the exhibition focuses on “ravenous consumption, fictional biologies, consumer waste, and ever-evolving toxicity both in the landscape and inside the body all resonate in the artists’ works”. While his co-collaborators Renadette and Nowinski focuses on the sculpture installation and collages, Burns curated photos, book projects, and video pieces to accompany the exhibition. The video program was a compilation of scenes that perpetuated the science fiction theme and was partially constructed at the Parsons Hall project space. During one night of the exhibition, Burns allowed the video to be looped continuously. Visitors of the exhibition could start the video at any time and leave at any time. The purpose of variation and continuation of the video loop was to allow visitors to interpret the video in relation to the rest of the exhibit. From our interview, Burns discussed the importance of fluidity, time, and interpretation when watching the video. Each scene, piece, and part of the collection are put together with conscious thought in creating a special themed exhibition.



Props used for Torsten's Video Piece

Props used for Torsten’s Video Piece

“Combining alternate realities and absurdist humor, Burns creates cinematic compositions that are both visually and mentally stimulating. Embedded in Burns’ work are variable filmic genres and science fiction literary references”


By Karen Li and Sadie Smith