How a giant spider led to an epiphany about the impact of art:
Anna Buchanan relishes her role as the curator of contemporary art and craft at the William King Museum of Art. Part of the reason may be that, as an accomplished artist herself, she has a special rapport with other artists, as well as a unique perspective on art and its impact on viewers. “I always knew that I wanted to go into the arts,” she says. “Becoming a museum curator is like having the best of both worlds. I love helping artists share their work with others.”
Armed with a Clemson University MFA and a wealth of experience gained from non-profit work, Anna is certainly achieving her goal of bringing people and art together. It all began with Arts2Grow, an arts outreach non-profit she started in college to revitalize the arts in her community, followed by working for non-profits including women’s aid centers and homeless shelters. Her outreach experience not only persuaded her that she wanted to work in the non-profit arena, but also enriched her own art, which uses drawing and mixed media to explore empathic and spatial relationships with the abject body, particularly the feminine body.
“Empathy is really an important quality for me,” Anna says. “Art helps us understand how another person is feeling and provides a meaningful connection that is beneficial to our society.”
Elaborating on the importance of empathy, Anna recalls the moment she was moved to tears by her encounter with Louise Bourgeois’ Maman, a bronze, stainless steel, and marble sculpture of a giant spider that is among the world’s largest.
“I am terrified of spiders,” she says, “but I realized as I stood beneath that giant spider that she was also a mother, and somehow so fragile that her legs seemed to be trembling, as if she could go no farther. This was art that changed me. It made me cry.”
Anna Buchanan recently won best of show in Create Appalachia’s Leaf & Root & Berry exhibit. To view more of her work, please visit her website, awbfineart.com. For more of her thoughts on the importance of connection between art and audience, please visit Curator’s Corner at williamkingmuseum.org