"Response and Memory: The Art of Beverly Buchanan", a selection of bold, colorful, and expressive drawings and sculptures by this leading contemporary artist, opens to the public November 21, 2009, at the Morris Museum of Art
Organized by the Asheville Art Museum from the collections of Ann and Ted Oliver (with the assistance of the Morris Museum of Art), the exhibition remains on view at the Morris Museum through January 31, 2010.
Through her continued exploration of the vernacular architecture of the South, Beverly Buchanan has created richly expressive works of art that symbolize community and the energy and imagination that are required to sustain it. She is a great story teller, and, implicit in her work, lie the stories behind the rural sharecropper shacks she depicts . . ., said Kevin Grogan, Director of the Morris Museum of Art.
Beverly Buchanan, born in 1940 in Fuquay, North Carolina, was raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina, on the campus of South Carolina State College, where her father was dean of the School of Agriculture. Armed with degrees in medical technology, parasitology, and public health from Bennett College and Columbia University, she was a medical technologist for the Veterans Administration in the Bronx and then a health educator for the East Orange New York Health Department. (Although she was accepted to medical school, Buchanan decided not to go, choosing instead to dedicate more time to her art.) In 1971 she attended art classes at the Art Students League, where she studied with Norman Lewis, and, during the 1970s, Romare Bearden became a particularly important friend and mentor.
In 1977 Buchanan moved to Macon, Georgia, to devote her full time and attention to art. Buchanans early sculptures demonstrated an innate interest in the architecture of poverty. Made of cast concrete, clay, pigment, and other materials, these primeval, blocklike forms conveyed a sense of archaeological ruin and mystery.
Buchanans art gradually evolved from abstract, organic forms into the expressionistic, representational works she executes today. Her sculptures are based, in part, on the sharecropper shacks that can be found along the back roads of the rural South while traveling with her father. Buchanans sculpture and drawings challenge the icons of hopelessness; they are elegies that salute the integrity, resilience, and resolution of humankind.
My work is about, I think, responses. My response to what Im calling groundings, states Buchanan. A process of creating objects that relate to but are not reproductions of structures, houses mainly lived in now or abandoned that served as home or an emotional grounding. Whats important for me is the total look of the piece. Each section must relate to the whole structure. There are new groundings, but old ones help me ask questions and see possible stories as answers. Groundings are everywhere. Im trying to make houses and other objects that show what some of them might look like now and in the past.
In 1980, Buchanan was awarded fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the Carnegie Museum of Art, PA; the Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia , SC ; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta , GA ; the Asheville Art Museum, NC; the Tubman African American Museum, Macon , GA ; and the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta , GA.