Artists Space

Beverly Buchanan, 1978 – 1981

Book Launch & Discussion
March 25, 2015, 7pm

In 1981, Ana Mendieta organized Dialectics of Isolation: An Exhibition of Third World Women Artists of the United States at A.I.R. Gallery, a cooperative exhibition space for women located at 97 Wooster Street in Manhattan. Including works by Howardena Pindell, Senga Nengudi, and Beverly Buchanan, among others, the exhibition, in Mendieta’s words, “points not necessarily to the injustice or incapacity of a society that has not been willing to include us, but more towards a personal will to continue being ‘other.’”

Installation view of several cast concrete blocks arranged on top of one another and leaning against each other, in two groups, standing on a wood floor.
Beverly Buchanan, slab works, c. 1978–1980. Cast concrete sculptures with acrylic paint. Dimensions unknown. Courtesy the Frances Mulhall Achiles Library, Artist File, Whitney Museum of American Art. [Installation view of several cast concrete blocks arranged on top of one another and leaning against each other, in two groups, standing on a wood floor.]

This public discussion starts by looking at three of Buchanan’s cast concrete works made in 1978 and included in Dialectics of Isolation. Part of a larger series titled *Frustula, these sculptures complicate art historical schisms between formalism, biography, and identity. Artist Howardena Pindell, art historian Andy Campbell, and Romare Bearden Foundation co-director Diedra Harris-Kelley will take up the stakes of Buchanan’s work, which speaks to larger questions regarding the role of artist-run or cooperative spaces in New York during these years (specifically A.I.R. and Cinque Gallery), as well as the ways in which post- minimalism and site-specificities interplay with histories of marginalization.

This discussion is organized in collaboration with the launch of Beverly Buchanan 1978 – 1981, a book initiated by the artist Park McArthur. Published by Athénée Press and indexing Buchanan’s concrete sculptures for the first time, the book features a republished text by curator Lowery Stokes Sims, a poem by Alice Lovelace, and design by Jake Hobart.

Beverly Buchanan, 1978 – 1981
With contributions by Beverly Buchanan, Lowery Stokes Sims, Jennifer Burris, and Park McArthur
Graphic design by Jake Hobart
Published by Athénée Press, Mexico City
Printed duotone with four-color cover and sleeve, 96 pages
ISBN 9780986205903

In the summer of 1977, following a ten-year career as a public health educator in the Bronx and East Orange, New Jersey, Beverly Buchanan exhibited a selection of cast concrete sculptures at Truman Gallery on 38 East 57th Street. Three years later, in 1980, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to create a large-scale public artwork using similar techniques in the Marshes of Glynn in Brunswick, Georgia. Following Lucy Lippard’s politicization of Land Art and earthworks, Beverly Buchanan, 1978 –1981 looks at the social and aesthetic propositions of Buchanan’s art practice from these formative years. Through the economic, social, and historical networks that constitute Buchanan’s sculptures, this book explores how the artist’s memorials, mounds, and living fields intersect with life in the American South.

Beverly Buchanan is an artist based in Ann Arbor who explores Southern vernacular architecture in multiple mediums, encompassing sculpture, photography, drawing, and site-specific installation. Her work is held in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

Park McArthur is an artist living and working in New York. Her most recent exhibitions took place at ESSEX STREET, New York, Yale Union, Portland, OR and Galerie Lars Friedrich, Berlin. Her writing, which focuses on dependency and autonomy and care, has been published in Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory with Tina Zavitsanos, and The Happy Hypocrite. She is a 2015 Wynn Newhouse Award recipient.

Jennifer Burris is a curator and writer based in Mexico City, where she is director of Athénée Press. Previously, she was the 2011-2013 Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow at the ICA at the University of Pennsylvania. She has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and in 2010-2011 was a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow in the Whitney Independent Study Program.

Howardena Pindell is an artist living and working in New York. She received an MFA from Yale University and holds honorary doctorates from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston and Parsons School of Design, New York. Pindell has taught at Stony Brook University, SUNY since 1979. She has received numerous grants and awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Diedra Harris-Kelley is an artist and Co-Director of the Romare Bearden Foundation. She earned an MFA from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Harris-Kelley is currently teaching a seminar on Romare Bearden at Columbia University and has previously taught studio art at New York University and Parsons School of Design. From 2009 – 2012 she was a member of the curatorial team at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Andy Campbell, Ph.D., is a Critic-In-Residence with the Core Program (Glassell School of Art/Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) and an instructor of LGBTQ studies at Rice University. Recent and forthcoming publications focus on women's lands and photography, Wu Tsang's full body quotation as a performance tactic, and Dean Sameshima's connect the dot paintings. His writings and reviews appear in Artforum, Aperture, Modern Painters, and others.