A young Indigenous artist living and born on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Jessica is a proud descendant of the Yaegl people, from northern NSW, on the mighty Clarence River.
Jessica's work was recognised on Wednesday night at the Australia Council's National Indigenous Arts Awards. At a ceremony at the Opera House, she and another printmaker, Fiona Elisala, from the Torres Strait Islands, were named joint winners of the inaugural Emerging and Young Artist Award.
Birk, 24, has exhibited her work with some of Sydney's most prominent indigenous artists, including Bronwyn Bancroft and Sally Morgan.
She met Bancroft as a child at Cromer Public School, when the artist helped the students with a mural.
"She was incredibly inspirational to me when I was a kid and when I met up with her in later life, she became a mentor," Birk says.
Like many artists, she uses her work to express her mixed heritage. Unlike many, she finds it easy to reconcile the two halves of her upbringing.
"You can belong to more than one place and more than one culture," she says.
"Belonging on the northern beaches is something I've grown into.
Belonging up there [in the Clarence Valley] was something I was born into - a gift from my ancestors and my family." SMH ( 27/05/2009)