Burns completed his formal education at the prestigious schools Rhode Island School of Design and the Royal College of Art in London, earning his BFA from RISD and his masters from the Royal College.
Over his illustrious career Burns has shown at institutions such as the Royal College of Art, London, I.A.I.A. in Santa Fe, NM, The Fine Arts Museum of New Mexico and the Albuquerque Museum of Art, New Mexico .
Early in his career he was featured in the book Black Artists of the New Generation by Elton Fax in 1977, and was included in Who’s Who in Black America in 1981. Additionally he has been written up in publications such as Santa Fe Art by Simone Ellis, Davenport’s Art Reference and The Magazine. Following graduation, Burns received two Macdowell Colony Fellowships at the Edward MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. In 1975, Burns was invited by John Torres to teach at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.