AMY WESSON ’19
“INK: Recent Paintings by Deborah Buck” opened at the Widener Gallery in Austin Arts Center on Feb. 1st. Buck incorporates acrilyc, pastel, and sumi ink on paper to create surreal and colorful pieces with depth. After graduating from Trinity College with honors in 1978, Buck went on to design animated displays for Walt Disney productions across the country and internationally. In 2001, she started “Buck House” in New York City, an art and antiques gallery on Madison Avenue that served as a space for events, exhibitions, and members of the art community for 11 years: “Having been inspired by turn-of-the-century Parisian intellectual salons, I sought to create a gathering place of my own.” (The location closed in 2012, but its creative endeavors are accessible online at http://www.buckhouse.com/.)
Buck, a Baltimore native currently located in New York, credits her artistic development to her mentor from her beginnings as a young artist, abstract expressionist Clyfford Still. Still mentored Buck as a high school student, and chose her to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine on a full scholarship under his name. In recalling his impact as a mentor, Buck said: “He told me, ‘Nobody can teach you to paint; you already know how to do that. But if you want to be taken seriously, you should learn everything you can about the world around you: religion, politics, design, science.’” In addition to Clyfford Still, Buck thanks George Chaplin, Charles S. Nutt Professor of Fine Arts, Emeritus, and former chair of the Studio Arts Program at Trinity. She describes Chaplin, who retired from Trinity in 1991, as a life-changing mentor who opened her eyes to painting during her time as a Trinity College student.
Buck started to professionally exhibit her work in the 1980s, most recently as solo exhibitions at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York City, and the Garrison Art Center in Garrison, New York. Her work has also been featured in books, magazines, and television. She has taught in the graduate design program at the School of Visual Arts, and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Buck describes the use of ink in her creative process as a discovery that gave her the “creative wings” for this exhibition. “ink insists on a mindful presence; it does not suffer mistakes lightly. I must stay present and work fast. It creates a discipline in editing before the brush even hits the surface. It requires intent.” She came across ink, which she refers to a “magical, viscous tool,” somewhat late in her practice as a professional artist, but found it useful in further developing her work: “As a colorist I had always preferred color over the lack of it—layers and layers of paint. I began using the ink on large pieces of paper—fast, surreal and absurd images. I thought of these images as sketches, not finished pieces because they came too easily. Eventually I added some pastel and perhaps a wash of color. Finally, in a throw away gesture, frustrated by a painting that would not resolve, I began painting lines of ink on a painting. Its density, its speed all changed the focus of the piece. Suddenly there was subject in the foreground and the background moved further away. I had created depth and clarity with the ink. The ink had integrated itself into the painting and the color.”
The exhibition will run through March 7 and is available to the public from Mondays through Saturdays, 1 to 6 p.m. For more information on Deborah Buck and her work, visit http://deborahbuck.com/, and be sure to check the arts calendarfor upcoming exhibitions at Trinity College.