Exploring vulnerability through materials with artist Anna Buckner

Raised in North Carolina, Anna Buckner received a BFA in painting from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012 and a MFA in painting from Indiana University in 2016. In 2014, she completed an apprenticeship in Buddhist Thangka painting in Sikkim, India. Anna Buckner has exhibited nationally extensively and was recently featured in the 125th edition of New American Paintings. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Michigan State University.

Liminality is soft. It is malleable, compliant, acquiescent, and supple. At its worst it is impressionable, submissive, gullible and feeble. At its best it yields empathy and patience. I find strength in liminality – in vulnerability.

My work explores vulnerability through materials. Soft, it exists somewhere in between piecework and painting. I use fabrics that have an accumulated history – materials that are not straight off the shelf or direct from a factory, but that have been cared for, worn, and left behind. There is softness in the attempt to revitalize meaning within this material. I select stretchy fabrics that have a high potential for change when pulled over a support. The elasticity of the materials such as spandex and knits reference skin, and pulling these fabrics over a support causes them to swell like the body.

I piece the fabric scraps together forming a quilt top that is then stretched on a support. The design of the piecework is appropriated from traditional quilt patterns, but the initial symmetry of the piecework is compromised through stretching, causing the material to warp. Therefore, the support of the painting is a tool for transformation, revealing the potential of these materials, and pushing them into a role for which they are not traditionally used.

The soft colors in my work are similarly defined by their potential for transformation. They are often difficult to name, and in eluding specific identification, they too exist in a liminal state. Low saturated hues are more easily influenced by adjacent colors, and thus have a higher potential for change. In this sense, softness embraces connection through the relativity of color.

The balance of existing in a liminal state is vulnerable and precarious. I do not want my work to stand steadily, but rather float. This unpredictability, embracing transformation, encourages expansion through stretching.

Find out more about the artist: www.annabuckner.com

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